Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Photo Ark
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An orchard oriole photographed at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio
Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Photo Ark

Orchard Oriole

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


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.


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