Article and photos by Charly Mann
Orchard Orioles are one of the most distinctive and elusive birds in Oklahoma. Even though they often live close to open fields, they spend most of their time in nearby trees or near the ground strategically hidden in tall grass. I often catch glimpses of these birds, but they usually quickly disappear into a tree or dense vegetation before I can get close enough to take a photograph.
Orchard Oriole in late May 2009 outside of Bartlesville
Male Orchard Orioles have bluish a black head, back wings, and back. Most of the rest of their body is a vibrant chestnut brown. Their feathers are edged with white, and they have a thin white wing bar. Female Orchard Orioles look very different from males. They are olive-green on top, and greenish yellow below. They have light brownish wings with two white wing bars. Females are often hard to distinguish from several other species of similar looking birds including warblers.
Female Orchard Oriole from July 1010. Sitting next to her on this fence were three of her newborn.
Orchard Orioles are the smallest oriole in North America measuring only 6 inches in length.
Orchard Oriole sitting in a small grove of trees by a cow pasture
Orchard Orioles primarily eat grasshoppers crickets, beetles, and spiders, but also enjoy seeds and flower nectar.
Male Orchard Oriole looking for insects
Orchard Orioles are only temporary visitors to North America. They live most of the year, from August through April in Central America and northwestern South America. They migrate at night, and part of their journey requires them to cross over the Gulf of Mexico.Comment