South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Orchard Oriole

Icterus spurius

Length: 7 inches Wingspan: 10 inches Seasonality: Summer
ID Keys: Male with black hood, back and wings with dark orange underparts and shoulder

Orchard Oriole - Icterus spuriusOrchard Orioles are a summer resident of parks, gardens, and woodland edges.  They migrate in large flocks very early in late summer or early fall.  They are smaller and have a much ruddier orange plumage than do the other Orioles in the state, the Baltimore Oriole and Bullock's Oriole.  The photo on the right depicts the male. More photos, including females, can be found at the bottom of the page.

Habitat: Prefers woodland edges, woodland clearings, residential areas, parks.  Avoids unbroken forest.  Can often be found in rather open areas with scattered stands of trees as well.

Diet: Primarily insects, also fruit and berries, nectar, and flowers.

Behavior: Searches low through trees, bushes, and weedy fields in search of insects.  They are known as "nectar robbers", getting nectar without pollinating a flower by piercing the base of flowers to obtain nectar, bypassing the parts of the flower that allow for pollination.

Nesting: May through July

Breeding Map: Breeding bird survey map

Song: Orchard Oriole Song, also Orchard Oriole Call

Migration: Neotropical migrant, summering in the eastern 2/3rds of the U.S., wintering in Central and South America.

Similar Species: Male unmistakable, with different tone and pattern than other Orioles.  Female similar to female Baltimore Oriole and Bullock's Oriole.

Conservation Status: Has decreased in some parts of its range, such as areas in the east where forest regeneration in some areas has eliminated edge habitat and woodland edges that Orchard Orioles often prefer.  However, they have also seemingly increased in range and number in parts of the Northern Great Plains.  Orchard Orioles are extremely common victims of Brown-headed Cowbird parasitism, with studies in some areas showing up to 50% of nests being victimized.  These same studies have shown that Orchard Orioles who are victims of cowbird parasitism only successfully fledge half as many Orchard Oriole nestlings as do nests that aren't parasitized.  See photos at the bottom of the page for a male Orchard Oriole feeding a Brown-headed Cowbird fledgling.

Bird Feeders: Will drink sugar-water from feeders, also will come for fruit.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Orchard Oriole

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Orchard Oriole"

3) Orchard Oriole

Photo Information: July 22nd, 2008 - Minnehaha County - Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Orchard Oriole photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Orchard Oriole - Species Range Map
South Dakota Status: Common summer residents throughout much of South Dakota, in areas of suitable habitat.