Bullock’s Oriole (Icterus bullockii)

Male Bullock's Oriole Photo by Alan and Elaine Wilson

Male Bullock’s Oriole Photo by Alan and Elaine Wilson

Identifying Them:

Bullock’s Orioles are about 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 inches long, with wingspans of about a foot. Mature, breeding males have a darker orange-yellow plumage and darker black wings than non breeding males, who look more like mature females except females do not have a black throat.


These Orioles keep to the Southwest of North America. They breed in riparian, open woodlands like urban parks and use similar habitats during winter and their migration. Bullock’s Orioles prefer tall, hardwood trees and are found in cottonwoods, deciduous oak, pine-oak, live oaks, sycamores, willows, orchard trees, conifers and saltcedar.


When searching for food, they will forage in tree canopies and off of the ground or will occasionally fly out to catch prey in mid-air. During courtship, males conduct a display of hopping from branch to branch, bowing to the female frequently, while singing loudly. Both Males and females exhibit noisy and fairly aggressive behavior when guarding the nest and mobbing crows, jays squirrels, and other predators.

Nesting and Nestlings:

Nest sites are chosen by females who also construct it with rare assistance from the males. The construction usually takes about two weeks to complete and is woven from vine tendrils, strips of bark, fibers like hair, wool, grasses and twine and is lined with plant-down, cotton and feathers. Nests are often suspended from thin, branches and hung over bodies of water.

Females typically incubate 3 to 7 pale blue-white, brown splotched, eggs for about 11 days. Both of the parents retrieve food for the young who nest for a period of two weeks.

Bullock's Oriole Nest Photo by Jeffrey Rich

Bullock’s Oriole Nest Photo by Jeffrey Rich


Bullock’s Orioles diet is mostly insects like crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, and caterpillars along with fruit and nectar, which they sometimes steal from hummingbirds feeders. These birds extract insects from leaves, branches and trunks and pluck ripe fruit from bushes and off branches. They use a method called ‘gaping’ plunging their bills into fruit or prey, then prying their bills open inside to extract juice from fruit.

Attracting Them To Your Backyard:

Since nectar is included in their diet, they will steal some from hummingbird feeders, so make sure to fill your feeders all the way up. You can also leave out grape jelly and orange halves for them.

This entry was posted in Backyard Birds, Bird Watching, nonfiction and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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