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Baltimore Gets Its Bird Back

March 7, 1995

BALTIMORE (AP) _ Baltimore is getting its bird back.

The blandly named eastern race of the northern oriole really is unique enough to get back its classification as the Baltimore oriole, a committee of the American Ornithologists Union decided.

The weekend action reversed a 1973 edict that the Baltimore oriole and its western cousin, the Bullock’s oriole, were just one species called the northern oriole, even though the two had generally different feathers, songs and habitats.

The 1973 ruling left Maryland without a living example of its official state bird, which lent its name to Baltimore’s major league baseball franchise.

Reclassifying the birds as two species is not done lightly, said Van Remsen, a professor and curator of birds at Louisiana State University and a member of the ornithologists’ Committee on Classification and Nomenclature.

The committee acted after research indicated the Baltimore oriole is not guilty of as much interbreeding with the Bullock’s as had been thought.

``It’s nice to have it back,″ said Shirley Geddes, a longtime member of the Baltimore Bird Club. ``Now all we have to do is get the baseball team back.″

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