What types of orioles can you find in Colorado?
Few birds get me as excited as seeing Baltimore Orioles in my backyard each spring, either sipping grape jelly or feeding on orange halves. It’s no wonder these beautiful blackbirds (Yes, all orioles are part of the Icteridae family and considered blackbirds 🙂 ) draw so much attention and are a favorite amongst many people, both birders and non-birders alike.
Below are the 4 types of orioles that live in Colorado!
Make sure to pay attention to the range maps below to see which orioles live near you! For each species, I have included a few photographs, along with their most common sounds, to help you identify any birds you are lucky enough to observe.
- *RELATED: Watch the LIVE bird feeder and animal cameras in MY backyard* (You may get lucky and see an oriole eating jelly on my cams RIGHT NOW!)
#1. Baltimore Oriole
Nothing marks the return of spring quite like the whistling song of the Baltimore Oriole. Male birds, being a stunning combination of orange and black with white wing bars, are unmistakable. Females are beautiful in their own way, featuring duller colors than the males while lacking a black hood and back.
Baltimore Oriole Range Map
These birds spend most of their time at the tops of deciduous trees, fluttering around, building beautiful woven nests, and looking for food. They are most often found in open woodlands, riverbanks, and on the edges of swamps and forests. Even though they enjoy trees, they normally aren’t seen in deep, dark forests.
Baltimore Orioles LOVE eating ripe fruit and nectar!
These two sugary foods provide lots of energy, while insects give them the nutrition they need.
Baltimore Orioles are commonly seen during migration in Colorado. And luckily, these birds are relatively easy to attract to your bird feeders, as long as you use the foods they enjoy eating.
- RELATED: 8 LIVE Bird Feeder Cams From Around the World! (INCLUDING MINE 🙂 )
Baltimore Orioles in MY Backyard!
Try using one of these strategies below:
- Ripe fruit, such as bananas, cherries, grapes, or various 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.
- I have also seen Baltimore Orioles eating suet and sunflower seeds in my backyard.
Press PLAY above to hear a Baltimore Oriole singing!
Baltimore Orioles are often heard before being seen since they live so high up in trees. Listen for males to make a flutelike whistling noise while defending their breeding territory. Females also sing, but it’s shorter and used to communicate with her mate.
Scientific Name: Icterus galbula
#2. Orchard Oriole
While most orioles 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.
Orchard Orioles are seen in eastern Colorado during summer.
Orchard Oriole Range Map
But these shy birds are 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 through South America.
While many oriole species regularly visit bird feeders, Orchard Orioles are much harder to attract to them. You are probably more likely to see these orioles in your backyard searching for insects in shrubby vegetation or eating mulberries from a tree. But if you’re lucky, you may see them at your feeders eating sunflower seeds or orange slices, drinking sugar water from a nectar feeder, or sipping a bit of grape jelly.
Press PLAY above to hear an Orchard Oriole singing!
An Orchard Oriole’s song is similar to an American Robin, except it’s more varied. Listen for a series of loud whistles that lasts 3-4 seconds, which is used to attract mates.
Scientific Name: Icterus spurius
#3. Bullock’s Oriole
Bullock’s Orioles are common in Colorado. Look for them in open woodlands or parks, where there are large trees spaced out a bit.
Males are bright orange and easily identified by a black line that runs across their eyes and a black throat. Females look different and have a yellowish head, chest, and tail with a grayish body.
A unique skill that Bullock’s Orioles display is their ability to hang upside down for extended periods of time. They do this behavior while searching for insects or building their exquisite woven nests.
Bullock’s Oriole Range Map
You can try to attract these birds to your backyard by offering sugary foods, which help them replenish energy after a long migration from Mexico. Like other oriole species, the best foods to use are orange slices, jelly, and nectar.
Press PLAY above to hear a Bullock’s Oriole singing!
There is a lot of individual variation with the songs of Bullock’s Orioles. But in general, listen for clear, flutelike whistles that are around 3 seconds long, and often interspersed with rattles.
Scientific Name: Icterus bullockii
#4. Scott’s Oriole
You can find these beautiful orioles in arid areas of southwestern Colorado. Look for them from the mountains to foothills and all the way down to the desert. These birds forage and nest in palms, junipers, pinyon pines, and especially yuccas, where nectar, insects, and nesting material is gathered.
Scott’s Oriole Range Map
Interestingly, Scott’s Orioles are one of the few birds that will eat a Monarch Butterfly. Most species avoid eating these butterflies because they taste bad, which is a result of the milkweed plants they consume. These birds accomplish this feat by only eating the abdomens of the less potent ones.
Scott’s Orioles are easy to find because of their bright yellow plumage.
But it’s possible you will hear these birds first since males start singing before the sun even comes up, and then keep singing periodically through the rest of the day. Females tend only to sing while at the nest, in response to their mate.
Press PLAY above to hear a Scott’s Oriole singing!
Listen for a series of clear, low whistles that varies among individuals.
Scientific Name: Icterus parisorum
Do you need help attracting orioles?
Try reading this article that I wrote. It should help!
Which of these orioles have you seen before in Colorado?
Leave a comment below!
To learn more about birds that live near you, check out these other guides!
*The range maps you will see above were generously shared with permission from The Birds of The World, published by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I use their site OFTEN to learn new information about birds!*