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Bullock's Oriole


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Nimble canopy-gleaners of open woodlands in the western U.S., Bullock's Orioles dangle upside down from branches while foraging and weaving their remarkable hanging nests. Adult males are flame-orange with a neat line through the eye and a white wing patch; females are washed in gray and orange. In addition to insects, they eat fruit and nectar—a trait some bird watchers capitalize on by offering nectar, jelly, and orange halves in summer backyards. Listen for their whistling, chuckling song in tall trees along rivers and streams.

Keys to identification Help

Typical Voice
  • Size & Shape

    Bullock's Orioles are medium-sized songbirds with slim but sturdy bodies and medium-long tails. Orioles are related to blackbirds and share their long, thick-based, sharply pointed bills.

  • Color Pattern

    Adult males are bright orange with a black back and large white wing patch. The face is orange with a black line through the eye and a black throat. Females and immatures are yellowish-orange on the head and tail, with grayish back and white-edged wing coverts. Immature males show a black throat patch.

  • Behavior

    Bullock's Orioles feed in the slender branches of trees and shrubs, catching caterpillars and also feeding on nectar or fruit. They are agile and active, often hanging upside down or stretching to reach prey.

  • Habitat

    Look for them in open woodland along streams, particularly among cottonwoods. They also occur in orchards, parks, and oak or mesquite woodlands.

Range Map Help

View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Field MarksHelp

Similar Species

Similar Species

Adult male orioles are fairly easy to distinguish: Baltimore Oriole has a fully black head and white wingbars instead of the black eyeline and white wing patch of Bullock's. Adult male Hooded Oriole is orange on the neck and head with a black face; adult male Orchard Oriole is brick red, not orange. Females and immatures are trickier, especially Baltimore. Fortunately, Baltimore and Bullock's have a fairly small range overlap in the center of the continent—where they both occur, look for Baltimore's plainer, less yellowish head and less white edging on the wing coverts. Hooded Oriole of California and the Southwest has a longer tail than Bullock's and a bill that curves slightly downward. Immatures and females are more yellow on the underparts and lack the trace of an eyeline often seen with Bullock's. Immature and female Orchard Oriole is smaller than Bullock's and more greenish-yellow than yellow-orange, especially on the belly where Bullock's tends to be grayish.

Backyard Tips

Bullock's Orioles don't eat from seed feeders, but they do look for sugary foods as they complete their spring migration. A half-and-half mixture of water and grape jelly, blended into a syrupy nectar and set out in a small, shallow container, may attract the birds to your backyard as breeding season begins. They may also visit hummingbird feeders, as long as they provide perches. Birding stores sell oriole feeders that are specifically designed to attract orioles with sugar water. You can also put out orange halves in a shallow dish of water (to discourage ants). Replace the fruit daily to prevent drying or growth of harmful mold. Start putting out food before migrants arrive in your area; if it's not there when they first canvas your yard, they'll keep going. Once the birds have begun nesting, transition from sweets to mealworms. Visit Project FeederWatch for more information on how, what, and where to feed birds in your backyard.

Find This Bird

In the generally arid West, riparian (or streamside) woodlands hold a lot of the songbirds, including Bullock's Orioles. Look for them in cottonwood trees where they forage in the outer branches or build their intricately woven, hanging nests. Orioles are vocal birds; listen for their sweetly whistled notes interspersed with harsh chattering, sung by both males and females. Sometimes they give just the chattering notes as they take flight, and this can help you locate them, too.



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