Orioles have a very distinctive shape: longer and lankier than warblers and finches, with a narrow, sharply pointed bill. Orchard Orioles are smaller than Baltimore Orioles and Bullock’s Orioles, with a slightly downcurved bill. Adult male Orchard Orioles are hard to mistake with their rich chestnut-red color. Female Baltimore and Bullock’s Orioles are more orange on the breast and tail, and less greenish-yellow than female Orchard Orioles. Immature male Baltimore Orioles do not have black on the face. Immature Bullock’s Orioles, which have little range overlap with Orchard Orioles, are more orange and usually show a black line through the eye. In south Texas, female and immature male Hooded Orioles are best distinguished by shape: they are slightly larger, with a longer tail and a longer, distinctly downcurved bill. For other similar-colored birds, pay attention to shape. Dull fall warblers such as Pine Warblers can look like female Orchard Orioles, but they are smaller, with more compact proportions and a shorter, less pointed bill. Female and nonbreeding male Scarlet Tanagers are chunkier birds with a much heavier bill and blackish wings without wing bars. American Goldfinches are much smaller, with shorter proportions and a smaller, thicker bill. Scott's Oriole of the Southwest and Mexico has little range overlap with Orchard Oriole. Scott's is larger and longer-tailed. Immatures and females have grayer head and breast than Orchard Orioles.
Orchard Orioles don’t visit seed feeders, but they may drink nectar from hummingbird feeders or visit slices of oranges or offerings of fruit jelly (although provide small amounts at a time so it doesn’t get too messy). They are also insectivores, so a shrubby backyard may provide enough insects and spiders to attract them. During fall migration they are attracted to fruits such as mulberries and chokecherries.
Find This Bird
Orchard Orioles can be inconspicuous despite being fairly common. Look for them in the tops of scattered trees or in open woods. Listen for their songs, which are sweet whistles that may at first sound like other familiar birds such as robins or grosbeaks. Listen for harsh churrs and chatters interspersed with the sweet notes to help distinguish this species. And be sure to look for them during the height of summer, as these visitors tend to leave their breeding grounds in late summer, earlier than many other migrants.