Conservation status Declined sharply in southern Texas in recent decades, perhaps owing to cowbird parasitism. May be making a slight comeback in that area. Still fairly common farther west.
Family Blackbirds and Orioles
Habitat Open woods, shade trees, palms. Breeds in groves of trees (such as cottonwood, walnut, sycamore) along streams and in canyons, and in open woods in lowlands. Often common in suburbs and city parks. Especially favors palm trees, and will nest in isolated groups of palms even in cities.
In the hot lowlands of the Southwest, this slim oriole is often common in the trees along streams and in suburbs. It is especially likely to be seen around palms, frequently attaching its hanging nest to the underside of a palm frond. In yards and gardens it often visits hummingbird feeders to drink the sugar-water. The jumbled, musical song of the male sometimes includes imitations of other birds.

Feeding Behavior

Forages rather slowly and deliberately in trees and large shrubs, gleaning insects from among foliage or feeding on berries. Regularly probes in flowers for nectar and probably takes insects there as well. A common visitor to hummingbird feeders.


4, sometimes 3-5. Whitish, irregularly blotched with brown, lavender, and gray. Incubation is by female, about 12-14 days. Bronzed Cowbirds very frequently lay eggs in nests of this species. Young: Fed by both parents. Leave nest about 14 days after hatching. 2 broods per year, sometimes 3.


Fed by both parents. Leave nest about 14 days after hatching. 2 broods per year, sometimes 3.


Includes insects, berries, nectar. Feeds on a variety of insects. May especially favor caterpillars, also eats beetles, wasps, ants, and many others. Feeds on many wild berries, and sometimes on cultivated fruit. Takes nectar from flowers, and will come to feeders to drink sugar-water.


In courtship, male moves around female, posturing with deep bows and then pointing bill straight up while singing softly. Female may respond with similar posturing. Nest: Often placed in palm or large yucca, sewn to underside of large overhanging leaf; usually 10-50' above ground, but can be lower. Sometimes placed under banana leaf, in clump of mistletoe or Spanish moss, or suspended from branch of deciduous tree. Nest is a woven hanging pouch of grass and plant fibers, lined with plant down, hair, feathers. Female builds nest, but male may help bring material.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

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Most in our area are migratory, but a few remain through winter, especially where sugar-water feeders are provided. An early migrant in both spring and fall, with many arriving in March and departing in August.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon

See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.

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Songs and Calls

Series of whistles, chatters, and warbles.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.