Photo: Brian E. Small/Vireo

Bullock's Oriole

Icterus bullockii

In the west, this oriole is common in summer in forest edge, farmyards, leafy suburbs, isolated groves, and streamside woods, especially in cottonwood trees. For several years it was considered to belong to the same species as the eastern Baltimore Oriole (with the two combined under the name Northern Oriole), because the two often interbreed where their ranges come in contact on the western Great Plains. The habits of the two are similar.
Conservation status Still widespread and common, with only slight declines noted in recent decades.
Family Blackbirds and Orioles
Habitat Open woods, riverside groves. Breeds in deciduous trees in fairly open habitats, such as forest edge, isolated groves and streamside woods, especially in cottonwood trees. Readily adapts to some suburban neighborhoods if enough trees are present. Winters mostly in the tropics around forest edge and semi-open country.
In the west, this oriole is common in summer in forest edge, farmyards, leafy suburbs, isolated groves, and streamside woods, especially in cottonwood trees. For several years it was considered to belong to the same species as the eastern Baltimore Oriole (with the two combined under the name Northern Oriole), because the two often interbreed where their ranges come in contact on the western Great Plains. The habits of the two are similar.
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Feeding Behavior

Forages by searching for insects among foliage of trees and shrubs, rarely on the ground. Sometimes flies out to catch insects in midair. Visits flowers for nectar, and will come to sugar-water feeders; also attracted to pieces of fruit put out at feeders.


Eggs

4-5, sometimes 3-7. Bluish white to pale gray, with brown and black markings concentrated at larger end. Incubation is by female, about 11 days. Young: Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave nest about 14 days after hatching.


Young

Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave nest about 14 days after hatching.

Diet

Insects, berries, nectar. In summer feeds mostly on insects, especially caterpillars; also eats beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, wasps, bugs, and others, plus spiders. Eats many berries and wild fruits, sometimes cultivated fruit. Feeds on nectar and will take sugar-water.


Nesting

Male sings to defend nesting territory. In courtship, male faces female and stretches upright, with tail spread and wings quivering and partly open. Nest site is in tall deciduous tree, suspended from the tips of slender drooping branches, usually 10-25' above the ground, can be up to 50' high. Nest (built by female, sometimes with help from male) is a hanging pouch, with its rim firmly attached to a branch; tends to be wider and deeper than the nest of Baltimore Oriole. Nest is tightly woven of plant fibers, strips of bark, vine tendrils, grass, yarn, and string, lined with fine grass, plant down, hair.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Migration

Migrates in small flocks. Fall migration begins early, with many birds leaving northern breeding areas by the end of July.

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Migration

Migrates in small flocks. Fall migration begins early, with many birds leaving northern breeding areas by the end of July.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Clear and flute-like whistled single or double notes in short, distinct phrases with much individual variation. Also a rapid chatter.