Bullock's Oriole

Icterus bullockii

A bird of open woodlands in the American West, the Bullock's Oriole is especially fond of tall trees along rivers and streams.

Cool Facts

Photo taken from:
The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America by David Allen Sibley
  • The Bullock's Oriole hybridizes extensively with the Baltimore Oriole where their ranges overlap in the Great Plains. The two species were considered the same for a while and called the Northern Oriole, but recently, they were separated again. Molecular studies of the oriole genus indicate that the two species are not very closely related.
  • The Bullock's Oriole's nest is not always placed in territory where the male advertises.
  • Both sexes of Bullock's Oriole sing, but the males and females sing different songs. The song of the female is similar to that of the male, but it ends differently and with harsher notes. Early in nesting period, and before and during nest-building, the female sings regularly, and may sing more than the male.


  • Size: 17-19 cm (7-7 in)
  • Wingspan: 31 cm (12 in)
  • Weight: 29-43 g (1.02-1.52 ounces)
  • Medium-sized songbird.
  • Long tail.
  • Rather thin, straight, pointed bill.
  • One large or two small wingbars on each dark wing.
  • Orange or orange-yellow.
  • Male bright orange with black back, throat, top of head, and nape, with a slender stripe through eye.
  • Upper bill dark, with bluish cutting edges; lower mandible bluish gray, dull white at tip.
  • Eyes dark brown.
  • Legs and feet gray.
Crown, nape, and back black; remainder of head and underparts orange-yellow. Black eyeline and black on chin and center of throat. Rump orange-yellow to yellow. Middle tail feather black, the rest yellow, tipped with dusky or black. Wing feathers black, edged white; large white patch on wing
Pale grayish brownish to yellowish upperparts, with indistinct dark streaking, but without black. Yellowish or dull greenish gray underparts, becoming paler on belly. Throat often with some black. Wings gray-brown, with one or two indistinct wingbars.
Juvenile resembles adult female but is generally brighter yellow below, and usually lacks black feathers. Immature male with orange-yellow face, a black bib, black stripe through eyes, a dusky top of head and back of neck, striped back, and orange tail. Wings dusky with two white wingbars. Immature female resembles adult female.
Sex Differences
Male brightly colored with orange underside and face, black back, head, and throat; female duller, with pale underparts, and without black.
Range Map
Taxonomic Hierarchy


2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Icteridae
Genus: Icterus
Species: Icterus bullockii
Song a series of rich whistled notes interspersed with rattles. Call a chatter.

Identification and Information
See Anatomy of a Bird
  • Length Range: 18-21 cm (7-8.25 in)
  • Weight: 34 g (1.2 oz)
  • Size: 2. Small (5 - 9 in)
  • Color Primary: Orange, Black
  • Underparts: Orange
  • Upperparts: Black with orange rump.
  • Back Pattern: Solid
  • Belly Pattern: Solid
  • Breast Pattern: Solid
  • Bill Shape: Dagger, All-purpose
  • Eye Color: Dark brown.
  • Head Pattern: Eyeline, Unique pattern
  • Crown Color: Black
  • Forehead Color: Black
  • Nape Color: Black
  • Throat Color: Black
  • Cere color: No Data
  • Flight Pattern: Swift direct flight with rapid wing beats.
  • Wingspan Range: 29-32 cm (11.25-12.5 in)
  • Wing Shape: Rounded-Wings
  • Tail Shape: Fan-shaped Tail
  • Tail Pattern: Solid
  • Upper Tail: Black and orange.
  • Under Tail: Black and orange.
  • Leg Color: Gray
  • Breeding Location: Forest edge, Grassland with scattered trees, Mountains
  • Breeding Type: Monogamous, Solitary nester
  • Breeding Population: Fairly common to common
  • Egg Color: Blue or pale gray with brown, gray or black marks
  • Number of Eggs: 4 - 5
  • Incubation Days: 12 - 14
  • Egg Incubator: Female
  • Nest Material: Plant fiber, horse hair, string, and bark lined with moss, plant down or wool.
  • Migration: Migratory
  • Condition at Hatching: Helpless with sparse white down.

Other Names

Similar Species

  • Oriole de Bullock, Oriole ailes blanches (French)
  • Bolsero calandria (Spanish)
  • Northern Oriole (in part) (English)
  • Baltimore Oriole male has an all black head and two distinct wingbars. Paler Baltimore Oriole female and immature similar to Bullock's Oriole female, but are browner on back, more orange than yellow, have an orangish belly, and drab brown, rather than yellow sides of face. Baltimore female also has a broad smooth upper wingbar, rather than a serrated-appearing one, and white tips to the greater primary coverts on wing rather than broad whitish edges.
  • Hooded Oriole has orange top of head and neck, a black bib and face that includes the eyes, and an all black tail.
  • Streaked-backed Oriole resembles Bullock?s Oriole, but has yellow crown, black streaks on back, black tail, and is somewhat larger; females have black spotting on back.

Conservation Status

Widespread and common. You can help scientists learn more about this species by participating in the Celebrate Urban Birds! project.


Sources used to Construct this Page:

Riparian and open woodlands, or woodlots with tall trees, including parklands. Winters in riparian woodlands and woodland edge, with some in pine, pine-oak, or fir forests.
  • Rising, J. D., and P. L. Williams. 1999. Bullock's Oriole (Icterus bullockii). In The Birds of North America, No. 416 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.
Caterpillars, fruits, insects, spiders, and nectar.
Gleans and probes in trees and flowers for insects and nectar. Visits feeders for sugar water.

Adult Male

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Additional Photos & Video

Adult Sexes Similar

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All photos 2008 Rick Swartzentrover - Free for non-profit use.

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