What types of orioles can you find in the United States?

common orioles

 

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 8 types of orioles that live in the United States!

 

These birds are truly fascinating, and almost all of them share the following characteristics.

 

  • Bright, beautiful plumage. I think orioles look like they belong in a tropical rain forest.

 

 

oriole nests

  • Beautifully woven nests that hang from the tops of trees.

 

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.

 

Do you need help attracting orioles?

 

Try reading this article that I wrote. It should help!

 

Please let me know which oriole species you have spotted before in the “Comments” section! 🙂

 

Orioles That Live in the United States (8)

 

*The range maps you will see below 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!*

 


#1. Baltimore Oriole

baltimore oriole

 

Nothing marks the return of spring in the United States 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

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 the most commonly seen oriole in the United States. And luckily, these birds are relatively easy to attract to your bird feeders, as long as you use the foods they enjoy eating.

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.

 

 

  • 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

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 fairly common in the United States during summer.

 

orchard oriole range map

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

bullocks oriole

 

Bullock’s Orioles are common in the western United States. 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.

bullocks oriole on bird feeder

 

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 Mapbullocks 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. Hooded Oriole

hooded oriole

 

Males range from flame orange to bright yellow, depending on where they live, so you can’t rely on color alone to identify these orioles. Females are more consistent and usually appear olive-yellow with a grayish back. Look for a slightly curved bill on both sexes.

 

These birds are sometimes called “palm-leaf orioles,” because of their fondness for hanging their nests on the underside of palm fronds. In fact, Hooded Orioles are slowly expanding their range northward as people keep planting ornamental palms to landscape their homes and neighborhoods.

 

Hooded Oriole Range Maphooded oriole range map

 

Most Hooded Orioles migrate south to Mexico for winter. But some individuals choose to stay in southern California and Arizona each year. These birds spend the cold months hanging out at bird feeders, eating oranges and jelly, and drinking sugar water. Not a bad life if you ask me! 🙂

 

 

These orioles can be hard to see due to their inconspicuous nature. But you should have no problem hearing them if they are around, as both sexes sing! Listen for a series of chatters, warbles, and whistles that lasts between 1 to 4 seconds. Sounds range quite a bit among individual birds, and it doesn’t have the sweet song characteristic of other oriole species.

 

Scientific Name: Icterus cucullatus

 


#5. Scott’s Oriole

scotts oriole

 

You can find these beautiful orioles in the United States in the arid southwest. 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

scotts 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

 


#6. Audubon’s Oriole

audubons oriole

 

Audubon’s Orioles have a limited range in the United States and only appear in southern Texas. Unlike most other oriole species, both males and females look similar, with black heads, yellow bodies, and black wings with white wing bars.

 

Audubon’s Oriole Range Map

Audubons Oriole Range Map

 

These birds are shy and live in deep brush and vegetation, which makes them incredibly hard to actually see. It’s possible to lure them to a feeding station that offers sunflower seeds and nectar, as long as the location is near dense vegetation.

 

 

If you find yourself in south Texas and want to see an Audubon’s Oriole, it is probably easiest to try and listen for one. Their soft song rises and falls, with the second note the highest. Both males and females sing.

 

Scientific Name: Icterus graduacauda

 


#7. Altamira Oriole

altamira oriole

 

The Altamira Oriole is a tropical bird and only appears in the United States in a small part of southern Texas.

 

These beautiful birds are relatively easy to see within their range, as they readily come to feeders that offer fresh fruit, sunflower seeds, and nectar.

 

Altamira Oriole Range Map

altamira oriole range map

 

 

Like other oriole species, they construct beautiful woven nests that hang up to 26 inches long! Interestingly, Altamira Orioles will often nest near more aggressive birds such as Great Kiskadees and Tropical Kingbirds. The hope is that these other species will help drive away predators and parasitic birds, such as cowbirds.

 

These orioles make rapid, clear, flutelike whistles, with some rising and some falling in tone. Phonetically sounds like “chee-choo.”

 

Scientific Name: Icterus gularis

 


#8. Spot-breasted Oriole

spot breasted oriole

 

In the United States, this oriole can only be found in Florida, but interestingly, it does not occur there naturally. Native to Central America, the Spot-breasted Oriole was introduced into the Miami area of southern Florida in the 1940s.

 

Spot-breasted Oriole Range Map

spot-breasted oriole range map

 

Since then, these birds have established themselves as part of the local ecosystem, but they are not incredibly numerous. They are most often seen nesting and living in suburban communities. Spot-breasted Orioles can’t survive cold weather, which is why they have not extended their range more northward.

 

Both males and females look similar with a black bib, orange head, and black breast spots. The only caveat is that juvenile birds look different and are tricky to identify because they look similar to female Baltimore Orioles.

 

If you’re in south Florida, listen for a series of rich, slow whistles that sound like “whee ch-wee-chu-u.”

 

Scientific Name: Icterus pectoralis

 


Which of these orioles have you seen before in the United States?

 

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