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Bullock's Oriole Icterus bullockii


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Bullock's Oriole, male
credit: Kevin Cole/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Icteridae, Blackbirds and Orioles view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has mainly orange face and underparts with black back, nape, crown, eyestripe, and narrow line on throat. Black wings have white edges to flight feathers and broad white patch on coverts. Rump is orange and orange tail is marked with an inverted black "T." ADULT AND IMMATURE FEMALES Have an olive-gray back, pale yellow hood and breast, and otherwise mostly whitish underparts. Wings are blackish with white edges to flight feathers and two white wing bars. Rump and tail are yellowish. IMMATURE MALE Recalls adult male in terms of plumage pattern overall, but orange elements of plumage are yellow (very pale on belly), back is streaked olivegray, and crown is grayish yellow.

Dimensions Length: 7-8 1/2" (18-22 cm)

Habitat Common and widespread summer visitor (mainly May-Aug) to open woodland, especially waterside habitats where cottonwoods and willows flourish; winters mostly in Mexico.

Observation Tips Although not unduly shy, surprisingly easy to overlook when foraging unobtrusively in dappled foliage.

Range California, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Plains, Texas, Northwest

Voice Song is a brisk, whistled tch-t'tch-pe'wee-tu-wee-weep; call is a dry tchup.

Discussion Colorful oriole that is the western counterpart of Baltimore; formerly, both were lumped together as single species, Northern Oriole. Male is unmistakable; confusion is possible between females and immatures of both species, although ranges barely overlap. Identification of dull individuals requires experience and may not be possible in some cases. But overall, immature Bullock's in fall has a brighter yellow face and neck than Baltimore and back is plain gray (Baltimore's back has faint dark streaks). To add to the confusion, hybridization occurs in narrow zone of overlap on Great Plains. Sexes are dissimilar.