Living Bird Magazine
Scott's OrioleIcterus parisorum
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Icteridae
In the arid Southwest, few birds stand out as brightly as the male Scott’s Oriole, which lights up the desert's earth tones with rich lemon-and-black plumage. This gifted and frequent singer inhabits high deserts and the mountain slopes adjacent to them, where it nests and forages in tall yuccas, palms, junipers, and pinyon pines, restlessly moving about in pairs or small groups in search of invertebrates, nectar, and fruit. It’s particularly closely associated with yuccas, where it forages for insects and nectar and gathers fibers for its nests.More ID Info
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Scott’s Orioles are relatively easy to find. Males begin singing well before sunrise and sing frequently during the day, even when foraging and during the nonbreeding season. When foraging, Scott’s Orioles do spend time “buried” in yucca plants and other desert and mountain vegetation, but their bright plumage tends to make them easy to spot when they come up for air. In mountain woodlands, they may forage with warblers, vireos, woodpeckers, and kinglets.
- Turpial de Scott (Spanish)
- Oriole jaune-verdâtre (French)
- Cool Facts
- The Scott's Oriole is closely associated with yuccas in much of its range. It forages for insects on yucca plants, eats nectar from yucca flowers, weaves its nest from fibers taken from dead yucca leaves, and hangs the nest from live yucca leaves.
- Scott’s Oriole, Black-backed Oriole, and Black-headed Grosbeak are predators of monarch butterflies on the wintering grounds in Mexico. Many monarchs concentrate toxins from milkweed plants in their bodies, and most bird species avoid eating them. However, a few species have learned to taste individual butterflies and eat only the abdomens of the less noxious ones.
- Darius Couch, a U.S. Civil War general, named Scott’s Oriole to commemorate his superior in the Mexican-American War, General Winfield Scott. French natural historian Charles Lucien Bonaparte gave the bird its scientific name, Icterus parisorum, in honor of the Paris brothers who underwrote the costs of French natural history expeditions in western North America.
- Orioles like Scott’s Oriole are grouped in the genus Icterus, derived from the Greek ikteros, meaning “jaundice.” In ancient Greece, the sighting of a small yellow bird (perhaps a Yellowhammer, a small finch) was believed to provide a cure for jaundice. In the earliest days of North American ornithology, the discoverers of bright yellow and orange birds were apparently still aware of the old lore.
- The Scott's Oriole is one of the first birds to start singing each day, starting before sunrise. It is a persistent singer, too, and can be heard at all times of the day and throughout most of the summer. It has even been heard singing on its wintering grounds. The female will sing from the nest in response to the male's song.
- The oldest recorded Scott's Oriole was a male, and at least 6 years, 5 months old when he was recaught and rereleased during banding operations in Arizona.