Orioles in Washington! (2 species w/ range maps)
What types of orioles can you find in Washington?
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 2 types of orioles that live in Washington!
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.
- A diet of insects and sugary foods. Specifically, orioles are among the few birds that eat ripe fruit, such as mulberries, cherries, and oranges. They also drink nectar from flowers, similar to hummingbirds.
- 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.
- *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!)
To learn more about birds that live near you, check out these other guides!
Please let me know which oriole species you have spotted before in the “Comments” section! 🙂
Orioles That Live in Washington (2)
*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. Bullock’s Oriole
Bullock’s Orioles are common in Washington. 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
To attract Bullock’s Orioles in Washington, 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, Bullock’s 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.
- You may also see them eating suet and sunflower seeds.
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
#2. 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. Hooded Orioles are rare to see in Washington.
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 Map
Most Hooded Orioles migrate south to Mexico for winter. But some individuals choose to stay in the southwest all 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
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 Washington?
Leave a comment below!