Conservation status Numbers probably stable in most areas. Has expanded breeding range into western Colorado since 1970s.
Family Blackbirds and Orioles
Habitat Dry woods and scrub in desert mountains, yuccas, Joshua-trees, pinyons. Breeds in semi-arid zones of Southwest in oak zones of lower canyons, open woods of juniper and pinyon pine, stands of Joshua-trees, grassland with many yuccas, palm oases. Avoids true desert.
The rich, melodious whistles of the Scott's Oriole carry well across the slopes of the western foothills and valleys where it spends the summer. This bird occupies a variety of southwestern habitats, from dense oak woods of the lower canyons to open grassland with scattered yuccas, often placing its nest in a yucca and using the long fibers of this plant in nest construction. Scott's Orioles tend to be uncommon, and unlike some orioles, they are seldom seen in flocks.

Feeding Behavior

Forages rather slowly and quietly in treetops, clambering along branches as it searches for insects. Regularly visits flowers, probing deeply in the blossoms for nectar.


2-4, usually 3. Pale bluish white, with dots and lines of brown, gray, and black concentrated at larger end. Incubation is by female, 12-14 days. Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest about 2 weeks after hatching. 1 or 2 broods per year.


Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest about 2 weeks after hatching. 1 or 2 broods per year.


Mostly insects, some berries and nectar. Feeds on a wide variety of insects, including grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, and many others. Also eats berries and fruit, including cactus fruit; may feed on cultivated fruit at times. Also feeds on nectar, and will take sugar-water from feeders.


Males arrive on breeding grounds a few days before females, and sing frequently to establish nesting territory. Nest: Often placed in yucca, or in Joshua-tree (which is a tall, branched type of yucca). Also may be in palm or in tree such as sycamore, oak, or pine. Usually 4-20' above ground. Nest in tree may be hidden in clump of mistletoe. Nest (probably built by female) is a hanging basket, suspended by its edges, not as deep as the nests of some orioles; woven of grasses, yucca fibers, other plant fibers, lined with fine grass, hair, and plant down.

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

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Migrates rather early in both spring and fall, arriving on nesting grounds in March or April, mostly departing in July and August. Small numbers winter in southern Arizona and California.

  • 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

The song, a series of rising and falling flute-like notes, resembles that of a Western Meadowlark. Call is a harsh chuck.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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