Living Bird Magazine
Altamira OrioleIcterus gularis
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Icteridae
The brilliant Altamira Oriole is a tropical species with a tiny portion of its range reaching Texas’s Rio Grande Valley. Adults are flame-orange and black, with white highlights in the wings and a distinctive orange patch at the shoulder. In open woodlands, females find a high branch and then weave a remarkable hanging nest that can be up to 26 inches long. Like other orioles, they sing rich, sweet whistles interspersed with percussive clucks and chatters.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Altamira Orioles are fairly easy to find even in their tiny U.S. range along the lower Rio Grande. They often come to feeding stations, particularly at parks and national wildlife refuges. Elsewhere, look and listen for this species in taller trees near water. They can be easy to detect in the morning, especially in spring and summer, when males sing the most.
- Turpial de Altamira (Spanish)
- Oriole à gros bec (French)
Within this species’ range, feeders that offer fresh fruit, hummingbird nectar, or sunflower seeds can attract it. Native plantings that offer fruit or nectar-rich flowers can also bring in Altamira Orioles.
- Cool Facts
- Altamira Oriole was known as Lichtenstein’s Oriole for most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, named in honor of German natural historian Martin Hinrich Carl Lichtenstein, a professor of zoology in Berlin and founder of the Zoological Gardens in Berlin.
- DNA analysis indicates, perhaps surprisingly, that Altamira Orioles are not close relatives of the Hooded Oriole, which looks very similar to Altamira and is often mistaken for it, despite the difference in size.
- The Altamira Oriole has been observed foraging for dead grasshoppers on the fronts of cars.
- The Altamira Oriole is a solitary nester, with an average of about 800 feet between nests. Despite this wide spacing, it is not known to be territorial, and almost no aggression has been observed during the breeding season.