• Skip to Content
  • Skip to Main Navigation
  • Skip to Local Navigation
  • Skip to Search
  • Skip to Sitemap
  • Skip to Footer

Hooded Oriole

Icterus cucullatus ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: ICTERIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Black and brilliant yellow-orange flash across the sky when male Hooded Orioles dash through open woodlands and yards of the southwestern U.S. Following close behind are the pale yellow females. Sometimes called "palm-leaf orioles," these orioles "sew" their hanging nests onto the undersides of palm fronds. They often stay hidden while foraging, but their large, slender shape and nearly constant chatter usually give them away. Hooded Orioles also use hummingbird feeders, awkwardly bending or hanging upside down to drink.

Keys to identification Help

Blackbirdlike
Blackbirdlike
Typical Voice
  • Size & Shape

    Hooded Orioles are fairly large songbirds with longer and more delicate bodies than other orioles. They also have long rounded tails and longish necks. The bill is curved slightly downward, more so than in most other orioles.

  • Color Pattern

    Adult males are brilliant black and vary from brilliant yellow to flame orange. They have black tails, throats, and wings and yellow to orange rumps, hoods, and bellies. The black throat extends up the face creating a little mask around the eye and down the chest to make a bib. Adult males flash white wingbars. Females are olive-yellow overall with grayer backs and thin white wingbars. Juvenile males look like females, but with black throats.

  • Behavior

    Hooded Orioles are acrobatic foragers and often hang upside down while they grab their prey, but they tend to forage sluggishly among leaves and branches. They make direct flights between trees with strong wingbeats.

  • Habitat

    Hooded Orioles live in open woodlands with scattered trees, including cottonwoods, willows, sycamores, and especially palm trees.

Range Map Help

Hooded Oriole Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Field MarksHelp

  • Adult male

    Hooded Oriole

    Adult male
    • Slightly downcurved, thin bill
    • Black bib
    • Bright yellow to orange belly and head
    • © Bob Gunderson, Palo Alto, California, June 2011
  • Adult male

    Hooded Oriole

    Adult male
    • Slightly downcurved, thin bill
    • Black bib
    • Bright orange belly and head
    • © Carlos Escamilla, Bolsero Enmascarado Salineno, Texas, March 2011
  • Adult male

    Hooded Oriole

    Adult male
    • Long and slender oriole
    • Slightly downcurved, thin bill
    • Black throat and bib
    • White wing patch
    • Black tail
    • © Bob Gunderson, San Francisco, California, May 2012
  • Adult male

    Hooded Oriole

    Adult male
    • Long and slender oriole
    • Slightly downcurved, thin bill
    • Black throat and bib
    • White wing patch
    • Black tail
    • © Lois Manowitz, Tucson, Arizona, July 2012
  • Juvenile male

    Hooded Oriole

    Juvenile male
    • Long and slender oriole
    • Slightly downcurved, thin bill
    • Two thin white wingbars
    • Grayish back
    • Olive-yellow overall
    • Black throat
    • © Michael Todd/Macaulay Library, Tecolote Canyon Natural Park San Diego, California, May 2014
  • Adult female

    Hooded Oriole

    Adult female
    • Long and slender oriole
    • Slightly downcurved, thin bill
    • Two thin white wingbars
    • Grayish back
    • Olive-yellow overall
    • © Mike Pazzani, California, April 2013
  • Juvenile

    Hooded Oriole

    Juvenile
    • Long and slender oriole
    • Slightly downcurved, thin bill
    • Two thin white wingbars
    • Grayish back
    • Olive-yellow overall
    • © Ducbucln, California, July 2012

Similar Species

Similar Species

Male orioles are usually fairly easy to separate by looking not at their bright colors but at their head and wing patterns. The male Bullock’s Oriole has a much larger white patch in the wing than male Hooded. The male Scott’s Oriole has a fully black head while Hooded has a mostly orange head with only a black throat patch. The male Orchard is dark chestnut while Hooded is yellowish orange overall. Altamira overlaps with Hooded only in southern Texas and northeastern Mexico; look for Altamira's distinctive orange wingbar on both the male and female. Female and immature orioles can be much trickier to identify. The Hooded’s slightly curved bill helps separate it from other oriole species. Female and young Bullock's have white or grayish, not yellow, bellies. Female and young Scott's Orioles have gray-green heads and streaked backs. Female and young Orchard Orioles are smaller than Hooded and have shorter, straighter bills, shorter tails, and yellow (not black) under the tail. Orchard Orioles are also more greenish yellow overall.

Regional Differences

Males in northwestern Mexico and the southwestern United States tend to be more yellow, while males in south Texas and eastern Mexico are more orange.

Backyard Tips

Try attracting Hooded Orioles to your yard with oranges, sugar water, or jelly. Slice oranges in half and secure them to a post or other platform. Or hang up an extra hummingbird feeder with slightly larger holes to allow these larger birds to access the sugar water. Use the same proportions you would for hummingbirds: one part table sugar dissolved in four parts water. Be sure to dispose of any fruit that becomes moldy because some molds create toxins that are harmful to birds.

Find This Bird

Despite their bright colors, Hooded Orioles tend to be inconspicuous and sometimes remain hidden even while singing. They are often deliberate and slow foragers, so if you see a larger songbird moving slowly in a tree, don’t assume it’s just an American Robin—it could be a Hooded Oriole. One way to find them is to look for a desert oasis with tall cottonwoods or sycamores, or a suburban neighborhood with palm trees. In these areas, listen for their jumbling songs and chattering calls or watch the sky to catch them flying between trees. Fruit feeders and hummingbird feeders are also good places to look for them.

Get Involved

Report which birds visit your feeders at Project FeederWatch.

You Might Also Like

Migration Destinations: Western Mexico’s Thorn Forests, Living Bird, Winter 2010.

All About Birds blog, Here’s What to Feed Your Summer Bird Feeder Visitors, July 11, 2014.

×

Search

Or Browse Bird Guide by Family, Name or Shape
×
bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

The Cornell Lab will send you updates about birds, birding, and opportunities to help bird conservation. You can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell or give your email address to others.

×

The Cornell Lab will send you updates about birds, birding, and opportunities to help bird conservation. You can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell or give your email address to others.