Did you see a bird that was ORANGE in Iowa?
I’m guessing that you need some help figuring out which species you saw. Well, you have come to the right place!
Today, we will review 8 types of ORANGE birds that live in Iowa.
To help you make a positive identification, I have included several photographs of each species and detailed range maps.
Lastly, a few kinds of hawks and falcons also have orange plumage, but I have not included them below. If you saw an orange raptor, you should check out the following articles for additional help!
#1. American Robin
- A beautiful thrush that features a rusty orange breast and a dark head and back.
- Look for a white throat and white splotches around the eyes.
- Both sexes are similar, except that females appear paler.
American Robins are one of the most familiar ORANGE birds in Iowa!
They inhabit a wide variety of habitats and are found everywhere, from forests to the tundra. And lucky for us, these thrushes are comfortable around people and are common to see in backyards.
American Robin Range Map
Even though they are abundant, American Robins rarely visit bird feeders because they don’t eat seeds. Instead, their diet consists of invertebrates (worms, insects, snails) and fruit. For example, I see robins frequently in my backyard, pulling up earthworms in the grass!
These orange birds also commonly nest near people. Look for an open cup-shaped nest that has 3-5 beautiful, distinctive turquoise blue colored eggs.
#2. Barn Swallow
- The throat, forehead, chest, and belly are a rusty orange color. The back and head are a brilliant blue.
- Broad shoulders that extend down to long, pointed wings.
- Look for the long, forked tail.
Look for these orangish birds in Iowa feeding in open areas, such as meadows, fields, or farms.
Barn Swallows are also frequently seen consuming insects over bodies of water. Interestingly, many people find that these birds will follow them while they mow their yard, as the swallows feast on the bugs kicked up by the mower!
Barn Swallow Range Map
Barn Swallows used to nest in caves primarily, but they have successfully adapted to humans and now almost exclusively build their nests on artificial structures. Look for these nests made out of mud, under bridges, tucked under the eaves of barns and stables, or on any man-made building near open fields.
#3. Baltimore Oriole
I don’t think there is a brighter orange bird in Iowa than the Baltimore Oriole!
Males are an unmistakable, stunning combination of orange and black with white wing bars. However, females are beautiful in their own way, featuring duller colors than the males while lacking a black hood and back.
Baltimore Oriole Range Map
And luckily, these orange birds are relatively easy to attract to bird feeders, as long as you use the foods they enjoy eating.
Try using one of the strategies below to attract orioles:
- Ripe fruit, such as bananas, cherries, grapes, or berries. Orioles are attracted to the color orange, so putting out orange slices works best in my backyard.
- Grape jelly, placed in a cup, is a treat that orioles find hard to resist. You may also see catbirds and woodpeckers sampling the jelly.
- Similar to hummingbirds, Baltimore Orioles love drinking nectar from flowers. You can take advantage of this fact by setting out oriole-friendly nectar feeders at your bird feeding station.
#4. Orchard Oriole
While most oriole species feature bright orange plumage, male Orchard Orioles are a darker orange and appear rust-colored. Females are greenish-yellow, with white wing bars on black wings.
These orange birds are fairly common in Iowa during summer.
Orchard Oriole Range Map
But Orchard Orioles are shy and not often seen because they spend most of their time at the tops of trees. Preferred habitat includes the edges of rivers, swamps, lakeshores, open woodlands, farms, and scrublands. In winter, they migrate south to Mexico and South America.
While many oriole species regularly visit bird feeders, Orchard Orioles are harder to attract. Instead, you are probably more likely to see these orioles in your backyard searching for insects in shrubby vegetation or eating mulberries from a tree.
#5. Red-breasted Nuthatch
Red-breasted Nuthatches are active little songbirds with beautiful orange coloring on their underparts. Look for compact birds that have almost no neck and a very short tail.
These small nuthatches breed in northern North America, the western mountains, and the upper northeast. But during winter, they can truly show up almost anywhere. These birds travel where needed to make sure they have enough food. In some years, they have been seen as far south as the Gulf of Mexico and Northern Mexico!
Red-breasted Nuthatch Range Map
Red-breasted Nuthatches are mostly found in Iowa in coniferous forests. Their preferred habitat contrasts sharply with White-breasted Nuthatches, that prefer living in deciduous forests.
These orangeish birds are common visitors to bird feeders in Iowa!
Watch a Red-breasted Nuthatch in my backyard! (And learn more about my two LIVE cams here!)
#6. Eastern Towhee
- Large sparrow with a chunky body, thicker triangular-shaped bill, and rounded tail.
- Males are black on the upperparts, rusty orange color on the sides, and a white belly.
- Females are warm brown on upperparts, light rusty orange color on sides, and white belly.
These orange birds are one of the biggest sparrows in Iowa.
Look for Eastern Towhees living among thick brush along the forest edge, where they search for food on the ground under fallen leaves. They find their food by hopping backward and scratching the ground with their feet.
Eastern Towhee Range Map
You’ll often see these orange birds in your backyard if you have thick shrubbery or overgrown wooded areas. They’ll also sometimes visit bird feeders to eat seeds that have fallen to the ground.
Unfortunately, the Brown-headed Cowbird takes advantage of Eastern Towhee’s parenting skills. When female cowbirds lay eggs, they’ll often find a towhee nest, take out the towhee’s egg, and lay their egg inside. Sadly, the towhee cannot tell the difference, so the female raises the young cowbirds, which comes at the expense of their own hatchlings!
#7. American Redstart
- Males are black with bright orange patches on the tail, wings, and sides. The belly is white.
- Females are charcoal gray with a white belly and light yellow patches instead of orange.
Their bright orange coloring helps make them easy to spot in Iowa!
Look for American Redstarts in their breeding range in open woods of mostly deciduous trees. However, they’re much less picky when migrating, and they will roost in nearly any area with trees.
American Redstart Range Map
This beautiful species is high-energy and constantly moving. American Redstarts use their bright orange coloring for hunting insects, flashing their tail feathers to startle them into flight. Once the insect takes off, the bird snatches it right out of the air! That’s one stylish way to “catch” a meal! 🙂
The American Redstart song is often compared to a sneeze, with a few short notes at the beginning and an abrupt, loud end: “ah-ah-ah-CHEW!”
#8. Blackburnian Warbler
- Males have a brilliant yellow-orange face and throat with black stripes. The body is striped black and white.
- Females have the same general pattern but are much duller and more yellow than orange.
The Blackburnian Warbler’s bright orange coloring and a triangular eye patch is the easiest way to identify them.
Look for these orange warblers in mixed forests, where they spend their time high in the treetops foraging for insects.
Blackburnian Warbler Range Map
To attract migrating Blackburnian Warblers, consider a birdbath or water dripper, which may entice them to leave their canopy roost in search of a drink.
Which types of orange birds have you seen in Iowa?
Let us know in the COMMENTS below!