Return to Main Page   Dakota Birder Blog    

Bullock's Oriole

Icterus bullockii

Length: 7 to 8 inches Wingspan: 11 to 12 inches Seasonality: Summer
ID Keys: Black cap and throat, orange face, prominent white wing patch 

Bullock's Oriole - Icterus bullockiiThis bird was formerly considered to belong to the same species as the more eastern Baltimore Oriole, under the combined name of "Northern Oriole".  The Bullock's Oriole is the "western" species, found in the western half of the continent, while the Baltimore Oriole is found in the East.  Many South Dakota birds are variously intermediate between the two extremes, as the two species interbreed where their ranges come into contact.

Habitat: Areas of forest edge or open forest, such as woodlands, shelter belts, isolated tree groves, or residential areas.

Diet: Primarily feeds on insects during the summer months.  Will also eat berries and fruits.

Behavior: Forages by climbing and flitting through the foliage and branches of trees and shrubs, gleaning insects from vegetation surfaces, as well as flying out to capture nearby insects in mid-air.

Nesting: June and July in South Dakota.  The nest is a large hanging pouch, built of grasses, weed stems, and other long material that can be woven into the nest structure.  The female usually lays 4 or 5 eggs, and she alone incubates them.  Once the eggs hatch, both parents help to feed the nestlings.  The young leave the nest about 2 weeks after hatching.

Song: Short series of nasal whistled notes.

Migration: Neotropical migrant.  Summers throughout most of the western United States, summers in Mexico and points south.

Interactive eBird Map: Click to access an interactive eBird map of Bullock's Oriole sightings

Similar Species: Baltimore OrioleClick here to see a comparison between the two.

Bird Feeders: Will attend feeders for oranges and other fruit, as well as nectar.

Conservation Status: Numbers appear to be stable.  The IUCN lists the Bullock's Oriole as a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information: 1)  USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Bullock's Oriole

2) WhatBird - Bullock's Oriole

3) Audubon Guide - Bullock's Oriole

Photo Information: June 28th, 2003 -- Red Canyon in Fall River County -- Doug Backlund


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Bullock's Oriole - Species Range Map
South Dakota Status: Uncommon summer resident in the far western part of the state, less common elsewhere in the west.

Additional Bullock's Oriole Photos (coming soon!)