Photo: Brian E. Small/Vireo

Orchard Oriole

Icterus spurius

Most common in the Midwest and South is this small oriole. It favors open areas with scattered groves of trees, so human activities may have helped it in some areas, opening up the eastern woodlands and planting groves of trees on the prairies. Orchard Orioles often gather in flocks during migration. The black-throated young male, sitting alone in a treetop and singing his jumbled song, is often confusing to beginning birders.
Conservation status In recent decades, has decreased in many parts of range but has increased in some regions, such as northern Great Plains.
Family Blackbirds and Orioles
Habitat Wood edges, orchards, shade trees. Breeds in semi-open habitats with deciduous trees and open space, including riverside trees, orchards, suburbs, forest edges and clearings, prairie groves. Usually avoids unbroken forest. Winters in brushy areas and woodland edges in lowlands of the tropics.
Most common in the Midwest and South is this small oriole. It favors open areas with scattered groves of trees, so human activities may have helped it in some areas, opening up the eastern woodlands and planting groves of trees on the prairies. Orchard Orioles often gather in flocks during migration. The black-throated young male, sitting alone in a treetop and singing his jumbled song, is often confusing to beginning birders.
Photo Gallery
  • adult male
  • adult female
  • immature male (1st yr)
Feeding Behavior

Forages mostly by searching for insects among the foliage of trees and bushes. Regularly visits flowers, probing in the blossoms with its bill. In winter in the tropics, often forages in flocks.


Eggs

4-5, sometimes 3-7. Pale bluish white, blotched with brown, gray, purple. Incubation is probably mostly or entirely by the female, about 12-15 days; reportedly, the male may feed the female during incubation. Young: Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 11-14 days after hatching, may remain with one or both parents for several weeks. 1 brood per year.


Young

Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 11-14 days after hatching, may remain with one or both parents for several weeks. 1 brood per year.

Diet

Mostly insects, some berries and nectar. Diet in summer is mostly insects, especially caterpillars, beetles, and grasshoppers, plus many others, also spiders. Eats some berries, perhaps more in fall and winter. Often feeds on nectar, and may eat parts of flowers.


Nesting

Male sings in spring to attract a mate. Often not strongly territorial; in some cases, more than one pair may nest in the same tree. Also sometimes nests in the same tree with Eastern Kingbirds. Nest site is in tree (usually deciduous) or tall shrub, rarely in tall dense marsh growth. Often 10-20' above ground, can be much lower or higher (3-70' up); typically placed in fork of horizontal branch, sometimes in clump of Spanish moss or other site. Nest (built by female, possibly with help from male) is a hanging pouch or basket, not as deep as some oriole nests, woven of grass and plant fibers, lined with fine grass and plant down.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

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

Migration

Migrates in flocks; many move north across the Gulf of Mexico in spring. Fall migration begins very early, with some southbound by late July.

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Migration

Migrates in flocks; many move north across the Gulf of Mexico in spring. Fall migration begins very early, with some southbound by late July.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
A rapid musical warble, somewhat like that of Purple Finch, but not as rich in quality.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.

How climate change could affect this bird's range

In the broadest and most detailed study of its kind, Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations and sophisticated climate models to predict how birds in the U.S. and Canada will react to climate change.

Learn more

Read more: climate.audubon.org
Blackbirds and Orioles Perching Birds

Orchard Oriole

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season.

More on reading these maps.

Each map is a visual guide to where a particular bird species may find the climate conditions it needs to survive in the future. We call this the bird’s “climatic range.”

The colors indicate the season in which the bird may find suitable conditions— blue for winter, yellow for summer (breeding), and green for where they overlap (indicating their presence year-round).

The darker the shaded area, the more likely it is the bird species will find suitable climate conditions to survive there.

The outline of the approximate current range for each season remains fixed in each frame, allowing you to compare how the range will expand, contract, or shift in the future.

The first frame of the animation shows where the bird can find a suitable climate today (based on data from 2000). The next three frames predict where this bird’s suitable climate may shift in the future—one frame each for 2020, 2050, and 2080.

You can play or pause the animation with the orange button in the lower left, or select an individual frame to study by clicking on its year.

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season. More on reading these maps.
Winter
Summer

Winter Range
Summer Range
Both Seasons
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