At a Glance

This big tropical oriole is common in northeastern Mexico, but was not found in our area until 1939. It has since become common year-round in native woods of far southern Texas. It may go unseen at times as it forages in dense trees, but it draws attention with its harsh fussing callnotes. Even before the bird is heard or seen, an observer may notice its oversized nest, a pouch up to two feet long hanging from the end of a branch.
Category
Perching Birds
Conservation
Low Concern
Habitat
Forests and Woodlands
Region
Texas
Behavior
Direct Flight, Flitter

Range & Identification

Migration & Range Maps

Permanent resident throughout its range.

Description

10" (25 cm). Adults of both sexes resemble male Hooded Oriole but have orange patch (not white) on shoulder. Larger than Hooded Oriole, with thicker, straighter bill. Immatures duller.
Size
About the size of a Crow, About the size of a Robin
Color
Black, Orange, White
Wing Shape
Rounded
Tail Shape
Rounded, Square-tipped

Songs and Calls

Series of loud whistles and harsh chatters.
Call Pattern
Falling, Flat, Undulating
Call Type
Chirp/Chip, Whistle

Habitat

Open tropical woodland and edges. In our area, resident mostly in native woodland near Rio Grande in southern Texas. Farther south in Mexico and Central America, widespread in lowlands and lower foothills in open dry woods, forest edge, streamside groves, scattered trees in open country; usually avoids unbroken humid forest.

Behavior

Eggs

4-6, or fewer in southern part of range. Pale bluish white, blotched with black and lavender. Incubation behavior poorly known, probably lasts about 2 weeks. Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Age at which young leave the nest is not well known.

Young

Both parents feed nestlings. Age at which young leave the nest is not well known.

Feeding Behavior

Forages rather slowly and deliberately in trees, mostly high but also in low undergrowth, searching for insects. Will come to feeders for sugar-water and sometimes for other items.

Diet

Mostly insects and berries. Diet is not known in detail; feeds on many insects, especially grasshoppers, crickets, and caterpillars, also ants and many others, plus spiders. Also feeds on berries and small fruits, including those of hackberries and figs.

Nesting

In Texas, breeds mostly from late April to late July. Nest: Placed quite conspicuously out at the end of a horizontal branch of a tree, averages about 30' up, can be 10-80' above the ground. In the tropics, nest may be suspended from telephone wires. Nest is a very long hanging bag or pouch (with the entrance at the top), up to 2' long, woven of Spanish moss, grass, palm fibers, weeds, strips of bark; lined with plant down, hair, or feathers. Probably built by female; the process may take 3 weeks or more.

Climate Vulnerability

Conservation Status

Has become more common in Texas within last half-century. Farther south, remains widespread and common. Perhaps less affected by cowbird parasitism than some orioles.

Climate Map

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the Altamira Oriole. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.

Climate Threats Facing the Altamira Oriole

Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.