Oriole is bright
orange-yellow with a black face and throat, upper back,
wings, and tail. Similar to Hooded Oriole but larger,
with heavier bill and orange-yellow shoulders. Male and
female Altamira Orioles look alike. The Altamira Oriole
prefers forests and scattered groves of tall trees near
The best places to see the Altamira Oriole are the Brownsville region and the Santa Ana
Although mainly found in the dense foliage of tall forest
trees, the Altamira Oriole builds a conspicuous nest
suspended far out on a slender, drooping limb, safe from
most predators. The Altamira Oriole feeds on insects,
spiders and fruits such as figs and berries.
Oriole has a very
limited range, including the valley of the Lower Rio
Grande in Texas and southward in Mexico to Oaxaca. It is more common in central and eastern
Mexico than in any other part of its range. In the
summer, it only frequents the denser forests of its Texas
home, but during the winter months it will approach the
The nest of the Audubon's Oriole is usually placed in
mesquite trees, in thickets and open woods, from six to
fourteen feet from the ground. It is a hanging structure
woven from wire-like grass used while still green and
resembles those of the Hooded Oriole and the Orchard
Oriole. The nest is firmly attached, both on the top and
sides, to small branches and growing twigs. The rim of
the nest is somewhat contracted to prevent the eggs from
being thrown out during high winds. The inner lining
consists of finer grass tops. The Red-eyed
Cowbird of the
Southern United States and Central
parasites the nests of the Audubon's Oriole.
The diet of the Audubon's Oriole consists of mainly
insects and, to some extent, of berries and other fruits.
The adult male Audubon's Oriole has a black head, wings
and tail; white edges to wing feathers and a yellow back,
rump, breast, belly and shoulder. The adult female
Audubon's Oriole has similar plumage but duller. The
Audubon's Oriole is similar to the Scott's Oriole but has
a yellow, not black back. Other yellow orioles lack the
black head of the Audubon's Oriole.
In 1973, the American
Ornithologists Union grouped the Baltimore
with the Bullock' s
Bullockii) and called them "Northern
was due to behavioral similarities and the fact that
there is a zone of contact in the Great Plains where Baltimores interbreed with
Bullock's. Further studies have determined that the two
forms are deserving of full species status after all. In
fact, recent molecular analyses have discovered that they
are not even each other's closest relatives; the
Baltimore Oriole is most closely related to the Black-backed
Oriole of Mexico,
according to one mitochondrial
DNA study. The
genetic relationships between oriole species are the
subject of continuing research.
The westward range movement of Baltimore
Orioles is considered to be the result of suitable
habitat created as European settlers planted trees on
their farms. With the advent of modern agriculture and
the plowing of the prairies, Baltimore Orioles have
continued to expand west along streams and rivers. In
some areas, the Baltimore x Bullock's hybrid zone has
shifted westward due to this expansion; in other areas,
it is the Bullock's Oriole that seems to be moving
eastward. In any event, the zone of hybridization has remained approximately the
same width, and orioles within this zone may show
Oriole Range Map
Baltimore Oriole breeds from Saskatchewan and Nova
south through Dakotas south to eastern Texas, Louisiana and Virginia. Recently the Baltimore
Oriole was combined with the western Bullock's
Oriole as a single species, the Northern Oriole.
When trees were planted on the Great Plains, the
two forms extended their ranges and met. Despite
the differences in their appearance, it was found
that they interbred, and that most birds in the
central plains were hybrids, so the birds were
combined into a single species. Now, it seems
that in some places the birds are choosing mates
of their own type, and they are considered
separate species again.
Upon return from their
Central American wintering grounds in the spring, male
Baltimore Orioles begin establishing territories and
singing their familiar, loudly whistled song in open
woodlands and forest edges, in isolated clumps of tree,
and other open areas, often in suburban settings.
Individual males tend to sing a unique song. Competing
males may countersing, sometimes imitating each other's
calls. Males, which precede the arrival of females by two
or three days, display to prospective mates with repeated
exaggerated bowing, showing alternately their orange
belly and then their black back and orange rump. Once a
pair is established, both the male and female defend
their relatively small territory. The pair maintains
contact through calls and song.
The Bullock' s
readily visit an inviting yard & often come to a
feeder for berries, orange halves, nutmeats, suet and
nectar. Many years ago there was the Bullock's Oriole in
the West and the Baltimore Oriole in the East, and the
two did not overlap. However, when trees were planted on
the Great Plains, the two orioles extended their ranges
in these new woodlands and came together. Although they
were different in appearance, it was found that they
mated with each other. For a while they were considered
to be eastern and western forms of a single species, but
now they are considered separate species again.
Male - Orange face, black eye-line, large white patches
on wings and a black cap on head.
Immature fall male yellowish with black throat and
eye-line. In spring, male like adult,
but without white patches on wings.
Female - Yellowish head and breast; whitish belly.
Immature female like adult.
Call is a melodic collection of six or seven loud
whistles in announcing its territory, same as the
Baltimore's. A harsh chatter is an alarm call. Both
Shade trees and woods edges
Insects, nectar and fruit - especially oranges
Oriole Range Map
Oriole breeds west of the Great Plains. It's
territory takes over, where that of the Baltimore
Oriole's leaves off. There is an area of overlap
where the two ranges meet. The birds will still
sometimes interbreed, although not as often as in
The Hooded Oriole can be described as a neotropical migrant. These birds are typically
found in riparian areas. Humans have planted many species of
non-native trees. These trees have increased the numbers
of nesting sites available for the orioles. As a result
the orioles can also be found in some deciduous and riparian woodlands and human
habitations, often by ranches or towns.
The Hooded Oriole is a social species. They tend to flock
with related birds such as the Bullocks Oriole. Hooded
Orioles move around, mostly up and down the southwest
coast, while migrating to Mexico in the wintertime.
Jays, ravens and crows prey upon eggs and young nestling
Orioles. Adult birds are occasionally preyed upon by
species. Their nests in California become parasitized by both the bronzed cowbird and brown-headed cowbird.
Hooded Orioles are sexually dimorphic. The male has an orange-yellow
coloring with a black face, tail, wings and back. The
wings on the bird will have two white bars of feathers.
While the female has the same two white bars on her
wings, her coloring is an olive-green with a yellowish
shade underneath. Both male and female are the same in
size, ranging from 112-128 cm (7-8 in.) long. The bill of
the Hooded Oriole has a slight down curve that comes to a
sharp point, enabling them to feed off tubular flowers
Nearctic: Hooded Orioles are found in North America.
March through mid-September Hooded Orioles are found from
Southern Texas through central California. By the end of
September they migrate south to Mexico
Oriole Range Map
The Hooded Oriole breeds from northern coastal
and central California, southern Nevada, central Arizona, and western Texas south
into northern Mexico. Resident in southern Baja California and throughout mainland
Mexico. The Hooded Oriole inhabits palm trees, mesquite, dry shrubs, and some
deciduous and riparian woodlands; often found
around ranches and towns.
The Hooded Oriole's diet consists mostly of fruit,
nectar, and insects. This bird will forage in shrubs and
trees to find the insects and fruit. The nectar can be
extracted from such plants as agaves,
aloes, hibiscus, lilies, and other tubular flowers. That is
where their pointed bill becomes useful: it will pierce
the base of the flower to obtain the nectar. By doing
this it will not pollinate the flower.
Breeding season for this Oriole starts from early April
to early May. The male will flutter around the female
singing soft melodies with his bill open and pointing
upward; the female will respond to the male in the same
The nests can be found in a tall tree, preferably in a fan palm. Other trees regularly used for nesting
include cottonwoods, sycamores, live oaks, and eucalyptus. The nest is built 2 - 15 meters (6-45
feet) above ground to protect against any unwanted
predators. These nests are penduline (hang from branches
)and the nesting chamber is cup shaped about 10 cm (4
inches) in depth and about the same in width. They are
suspended by twigs and woven with string, dry vegitation,
and any other fiberous materials that can be found. The
female is the main builder of these nests; it takes her
3-5 days to complete it.
Typically 3-5 eggs are laid in the nest. The incubation period for those eggs is about 12-14 days,
and they incubated only by the female. Their eggs are
white, pale yellow or pale blue. They are lightly spotted
with a grayish brown coloring. The hatching of the eggs
usually takes place mid to late summer. The young are
tended to by both parents and will leave the nest about
14 days after being hatched.
The birds formerly
known as the "Baltimore Oriole" in the east and
"Bullock's Oriole" in the west were once
thought to be separate species. However, when trees were
planted in the Great Plains it was found that the two
birds interbreed and most birds of that area have indeed
become hybrids. In Lord Baltimore colors, it is one of the brightest
local birds and has a voice to match its distinctive
plumage. In the east the male has bright orange breast,
rump and shoulder patches while the head, back, and wings
are black. Females are duller olive brown with dull
orange-yellow underparts and two white wing bars. The
western male is similar to the eastern male but also
orange cheeks and eyebrows and a large white wing patch.
The western female is whitish underneath.
The males arrive in early May, trumpeting their rich,
mellow notes loud, clear and far-reaching, one of the
reassuring notes of the season. The song is a rather
disjointed composition of whistled two-note phrases and
shorter, softer single notes broken by long pauses. It
tends to be quite variable but of the same general
quality and tone. Each male has a recognizably different
The breeding habitat consists of woodlands and deciduous
trees throughout the United States and in Canada
along the St Lawrence Seaway and into British Columbia. It is usually absent from the
southern states near the Atlantic or Gulf Coasts. They
winter from Mexico to South America.
Orioles spend most of their time high in the treetops,
one must look closely to spot them. They like tall shade
trees in small towns, along country roads and especially
favor old elms around farmhouses. Big sycamores along
streams are also favored sites. Before the decline of the
American Elm it was the favored nesting site by
the eastern subspecies.
The courtship ritual consists of the male stretching to
its full height and then bowing low with tail spread and
wings slightly raised. And if successful the female will
build the nest. The nest is characteristic, a woven bag
about six inches deep, suspended from a small fork near
the end of a drooping branch. It is very substantial, as
it must be to withstand the gusty winds of summer storms.
The female is indeed one of the most skillful artisans of
North American birds. She will readily accept pieces of
string or yarn hung out over a fence or porch rail. The
nest in the photo was woven almost entirely of yarn.
The clutch consists of 4 to 6 grayish eggs, with brown
spots. It is an uncommon Cowbird host and may reject Cowbird eggs. The eggs
are incubated by the female for 12 to 14 days and the
young leave the nest two weeks later. The diet consists
of insects, spiders, and snails as well as buds, nectar
Length 7 to 8 1/2 inches
During the breeding
season, Orchard Orioles range from the southern parts of
the Canadian Prairie provinces, southern Ontario, central New York, and southern New England south to northern Florida, the Gulf coast, Texas and central Mexico.
They are most common, however, in the Midwest and
Southeast. They occur in open woodlands, areas of open
second growth, orchards, suburban streets, in riparian
areas, and in scattered groves of trees. They show a
preference for nesting near water, often along the shores
of lakes and rivers.
Oriole Range Map
During the breeding season, Orchard Orioles range
from the southern parts of the Canadian Prairie
provinces, southern Ontario, central New York,
and southern New England south to northern
Florida, the Gulf coast, Texas and central
Mexico. They are most common, however, in the
Midwest and Southeast. They occur in open
woodlands, areas of open second growth, orchards,
suburban streets, in riparian areas, and in
scattered groves of trees. They show a preference
for nesting near water, often along the shores of
lakes and rivers.
Orchard Orioles spend most
of the year on their wintering grounds in Central America
and northwestern South America. Northbound migrants leave
the wintering grounds in March and begin arriving in the
southern United States as early as late March, reaching
the northern parts of their range by mid- to late May.
Some migrants journey across the Gulf of Mexico. Orchard Orioles spend only enough
time on the breeding grounds to raise a single brood
before beginning their southward migration.
Nests form a deep, hanging cup, although not as pendulous
as those of Baltimore Orioles (I. Galbula), and
are invariably woven of grass fibers. They are usually
hidden within dense foliage, often in a dense cluster of
trees. In the South, nests are frequently located within
clumps of Spanish moss. Sometimes Orchard Orioles nest
near Eastern Kingbirds whose aggressive defense of their
nesting territory also benefits neighboring birds.
The male Orchard Oriole sings more to attract a mate than
to defend territory. They are only weakly territorial and
defend just a very small area around the nest. One song
type is short, lasting approximately two seconds, and
sounds similar to the song of a Purple Finch or House Finch. A second song type is longer,
lasting three to five seconds, and consists of clearer,
robin-like whistles, ending in a distinctive down-slurred
The young leave the nest 11 to 14 days after hatching.
Once fledged, the brood may disperse, the parents caring
for groups of fledglings separately. As soon as
fledglings are independent enough to care for themselves,
Orchard Orioles begin moving south, as early as mid-July.
During migration they may be found in a wide variety of
open habitats, but avoiding coniferous woodlands and
forests with closed canopies. Unlike most songbirds,
which undergo a molt
before leaving the breeding grounds, molt is suppressed
in Orchard Orioles until they arrive at their tropical
lowland winter home. Once there, they forage and roost in
flocks that can number in the hundreds. While in the
North, they feed primarily on insects; in winter nectar,
flowers and fruit are important to their diet.
Description: Orchard Orioles are
comparatively small orioles, only six to seven inches in
length (compared to Baltimore Orioles, which are 8 ¼
inches). Males have a color pattern superficially similar
to that of the Baltimore Oriole except that they are deep
chestnut (the only icterid that is largely chestnut) rather than
orange on the underparts and rump. The head, back, and
tail are black. There is a chestnut "epaulet" on the shoulder, and wings are black
with a single broad white wingbar and white edges on the
Adult females have olive-green upperparts and yellowish
underparts. There are two white wingbars. First summer
males are similar to females but have a black bib and
face. Some show a variable amount of chestnut feathers on
the breast. First summer males sing and may mate
While adult male Orchard Orioles are distinctive, females
may be mistaken for a number of birds, including warblers. They are most similar to female Hooded
Orioles, a larger, southwestern species with longer tail;
longer, more curved bill; and gray rather than olive
tones on the back.
The Fuerte's Oriole is currently considered conspecific with Orchard Oriole. It occurs in
coastal and edge habitats along the Mexican Gulf coast in
the breeding season and winters on the Pacific coast. It
has been reported from south Texas. In male Fuertes
Orioles, the chestnut color is replaced by ochre, and
females are somewhat paler.
Where common, Orchard Orioles sometimes nest colonially.
There are records of as many as 20 nests in a single live
oak tree in Arkansas, and as many as 114 nests made up one
colony on 7 acres in Louisiana. In the Northeast,
however, they are usually solitary and local.
In spring and summer, the arid mountain slopes of the
American Southwest ring with the beautiful song of Scotts Orioleclear fluted phrases often
persistently from before dawn well into the afternoon.
Specialties of the region, Scotts Orioles are as
stunning visually as they are aurallyespecially
adult males, with their lemon-yellow underparts and white
wingbars standing out in sharp contrast against jet black
heads, chests, and backs.
Scotts Orioles breed throughout a variety of arid
habitats from sea level to about 10,000 feet in
elevation; preferred habitats include desert canyons, pinyon-juniper foothills, and semiarid plains
between mountain ranges. The breeding range of the
species extends from the Sonoran Desert and Mojave Desert of southern California
discontinuously to appropriate habitat in southern Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, southwest
Texas, Baja California, and the Mexican interior.
Throughout most of the breeding range, Scotts
Orioles are migratory, moving south in fall and spending
the winter months in Mexico, south to Oaxaca.
Oriole Range Map
Scott's Oriole breeds from southern California,
Nevada, Utah, western Colorado, central New Mexico, and western
Texas south into Mexico. Winters from southern
California to southern Mexico. The Scott's Oriole
prefers pinyon-juniper woodlands of montane
semidesert areas, live oak-yucca associations,
and sycamores and cottonwoods in canyons. Also
uses joshua-tree habitat.
In all seasons,
Scotts Orioles feed mostly on insects and insect
larvae, which they pick from the ground or glean from
vegetation. Scotts Orioles may fly long distances
between their nests and the places where they forage. On
their wintering grounds in central Mexico, they feed on monarch butterflies gathered in dense colonies. Many bird
species have difficulty digesting monarchs because of
poisonous chemicals accumulated in their bodies from the
consumption of milkweed, but orioles can apparently reject
poisonous individuals or body parts on the basis of
taste. Scotts Orioles also eat nectar and fruit,
including those of cacti.
Scotts Orioles nest in many species of trees
yucca, palms, piñon pines, junipers, and oaks, among others, depending on what
is present in a given habitat. Nests are hanging baskets
made of leaf fibers (especially from yucca) or grass, and
lined with soft plant material. Scotts Oriole nests
may be round or oval, symmetrical or lopsided; they are
not as pendulous as the round bag-like structures of
Baltimore and Altamira orioles. For their nests,
Scotts Orioles choose locations that are well
concealed and shaded, usually 6-10 feet from the ground.
Clutches usually consist of three or four eggs. On at
least one well-studied site, only females incubate eggs
and brood young. Both sexes feed young and defend the
nest against predators. Many pairs raise two broods in a
single summer; in several documented cases, females have
laid eggs a third time in a single breeding season after
the successful fledging of two earlier broods.
A medium-sized songbird, similar in proportions to other
North American orioles. Adult male (after second year)
has black head, chest, and mantle, with brilliant yellow
belly and vent. Wings are mostly black with a yellow
epaulet and two white bars. Adult females show more muted
colorsbrownish heads, chests, and backs with
variable amounts of black, and dull yellow underparts.
First-year Scotts Orioles are duller still than
adult females, with olive-gray plumage overall. Males in
their second year resemble adult females, with similar
Both males and females sing a melodious series of
whistles, variable among individuals. Call note is a
The Spot-breasted Oriole, a native of Mexico, was first
reported in the Miami
area in 1949, where it was probably introduced from
escaped captives. It has since been found in Florida from
Homestead to Fort Lauderdale.
The Spot-breasted Oriole is bright orange with black
throat, wings and tail. It has white patches on wings and
black spots on sides of breast. It's voice is similar to
other orioles-loud, varied and continuous.
The Spot-breasted Oriole is a year-round resident from
southern Mexico to northern Costa Rica. Introduced around Miami, Florida. It
prefers open country with scattered trees, orchards,
gardens and parks.
Of the neotropical
orioles that may be seen in the southern U.S., the Streak-backed Oriole is one of the scarcest. It has not
established a permanent foothold as have the Hooded,
Altamira, Scott's and Audubon's Orioles.
The Streak-backed Oriole is similar to Hooded Oriole, in
whose range it may occur. It's upper back is streaked
lengthwise in all plumages (not barred side-to-side, as
in the winter male Hooded Oriole). The bill is also
thicker and straighter. The head of the male
Streak-backed Oriole is deeper red-orange than the male
Hooded Oriole. The female and immature are duller than
male with yellow-orange on head.
The Streak-backed Oriole's song is generally similar to
the song of the Northern Oriole. It includes an
unmelodious warble and dry chattering. It also makes a
series of clear wheet call notes.
The Streak-backed Oriole is a year-round resident from
northwestern Mexico to northern Costa Rica and a casual
visitor (usually fall or winter) to southeastern Arizona
and southern California. It prefers arid and semi-arid
scrubby open areas, brushy woodland and plantations.