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Orchard Oriole

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An orchard oriole photographed at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio

About the Orchard Oriole

This smallest oriole is common in the East and Midwest. Polytypic (3 ssp.; spurius in North America). Length 7".

Identification

A small oriole, may recall a warbler due to small size. Bill slightly downcurved, thicker at base with basal third of lower mandible blue-gray. Adult male: black hood and back; chestnut below and on rump. Wings black with chestnut shoulder, white lower wing bar, and white edging to flight feathers. Tail entirely black. Adult female: olive above; bright yellow below. Two crisp white wing bars and white edging to flight feathers. Immature male: similar to female, but by first spring shows a neat black bib and lores, often some chestnut spotting on face or especially on breast.

Similar Species

Widely sympatric with the Baltimore oriole; however, the male orchard is chestnut below, and immatures and females are bright yellow below, not orange or orange-yellow as in the Baltimore. Female and immature hooded orioles are similar to an orchard, although a hooded is slimmer and longer tailed, shows more tail graduation, and has a longer, more downcurved bill (but caution is needed with a short-billed juvenile hooded). An eastern hooded is more orange than an orchard; the similar western hooded is not as bright yellow below and has less well defined wing bars. An immature male orchard has a more restricted black bib than corresponding hooded plumage. The chuck call of an orchard is deeper and huskier than a similar call rarely given by young Hoodeds; the wheet call of the hooded is not given by the orchard.

Voice

Call: a sharp chuck, often in a series. Song: a musical, springy, and rapid warbled song interspersed with raspy notes.

Status and Distribution

Fairly common to common. Breeding: open woodlands, urban parks, and riparian woodlands particularly in the west of range. Migration: Trans-Gulf migrant in spring with arrival in north late April–early May, moves south as early as mid-July, but most head south in August. Winter: from Mexico to northern South America, in open forests and edge where flowering trees are found. Vagrant: rare west to California, Arizona, and Maritimes. Casual to Oregon, accidental to southeastern Alaska.

—From the National Geographic book Complete Birds of North America, 2006