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Orchard Oriole

Icterus spurius ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: ICTERIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Orchard Oriole swaps the typical flame-orange of other orioles for a deep, burnished russet. Hopping among riverine shrubs or scattered trees, male Orchard Orioles sing a whistled, chattering song to attract yellow-green females. The smallest of North America’s orioles, it gleans insects from foliage and builds hanging, pouchlike nests during its brief breeding season, and then heads back to Central America for the rest of the year. Orchard Orioles also feed on fruit and nectar in orchards, gardens, and elsewhere.

Songs

The Orchard Oriole’s song is a series of loud, clear whistles with a sing-song phrasing similar to (but more varied than) an American Robin. These notes are often interspersed with harsh, chattering notes. The song lasts about 3-4 seconds. Males sing mainly to attract mates rather than to defend territories.

Calls

Calls include a soft chuk and a quick chatter. Females and fledglings call with a simple, short whistle.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

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.

You Might Also Like

eBird Occurrence Maps, Orchard Oriole

All About Birds blog, Flyways for Flyweights: Small Birds Capitalize on Weather Patterns During Epic Migrations, May 15, 2014.

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

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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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