Living Bird Magazine
Hooded OrioleIcterus cucullatus
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Icteridae
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.More ID Info
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.
- Turpial Enmascarado (Spanish)
- Oriole masqué (French)
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.
- Cool Facts
- Hooded Oriole song is a chattering mix of notes and cries that sometimes includes a few notes from their neighbors. In Arizona, they mimic Gila Woodpeckers and Ash-throated Flycatchers.
- Hooded Orioles in California earned the nickname “palm-leaf oriole” because of their tendency to build nests in palm trees. When the nest is suspended from palm leaves, the female pokes holes in the leaf from below and pushes the fibers through, effectively sewing the nest to the leaf.
- A few Hooded Orioles in southern California and Arizona hang around neighborhoods all winter long, taking advantage of free food at hummingbird feeders instead of migrating south.
- Orioles are members of the blackbird family (Icteridae), along with meadowlarks and cowbirds. Birds in this family all have super strong, long, and pointed bills. They use these bills to get at food other birds can’t reach, such as prying apart thick patches of grass, opening up flowers, enlarging holes in tree bark, and digging into ripe fruits for their juice.
- Hooded Orioles expanded their range northward after people planted more ornamental palm trees around their homes and suburban areas. By 2017, Hooded Orioles were using parks and suburban yards as far north as Arcata, California.
- Don't be fooled by color, Hooded Orioles in Texas and eastern Mexico are flame orange, but those in the southwestern United States and western Mexico are bright yellow.
- The oldest recorded Hooded Oriole was a male, and at least 6 years old when he was found in California in 1972, the same state where he had been banded in 1967.