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Bird Gallery

Orchard Oriole

Orchard Oriole
Orchard Oriole (male)

© Joseph Kennedy

Icterus spurius

Family: (Icteridae) Blackbirds and Orioles

Preferred Habitat: Mixed woods with open areas.

Seasonal Occurrence: Common spring and fall. Uncommon in summer and rare in winter. Nests in our area

Profile by Vicki Stittleburg: The Orchard Oriole is the smallest of all North American orioles. Adult males have a black head, back and tail and are rich reddish-chestnut below. The black wing has a reddish-chestnut patch and 1 white bar. Females are greenish yellow overall with two white wing bars. Juvenile males resemble females, but have a black throat patch.

After crossing the Gulf of Mexico in large numbers during spring migration, the birds spread out across much of Texas to breed. Orchard Orioles can be found in open woodlands, orchards, and tree-lined neighborhoods. In the fork a deciduous tree or tall shrub, females weave a hanging pouch nest from fine plant fibers. Orioles are frequent victims of nest parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbirds; in some parts of its breeding range, over half of Orchard Oriole nests are parasitized by cowbirds.

Orchard Orioles leave their breeding grounds earlier than other migrants with some birds returning to their wintering grounds as early as mid-July. Because of the short breeding season, researchers have trouble distinguishing between breeding orioles and migrating ones in any given location.

Orchard Oriole
Orchard Oriole (female)

© Joseph Kennedy