Hooded Oriole

Icterus cucullatus

Named for the orange hood on the male, this slender oriole is at home in suburban areas of the southwestern United States. It originally nested in the trees of desert oases, but finds ornamental trees suitable.

Cool Facts

Photo taken from:
The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America by David Allen Sibley
  • When the nest is suspended from palm leaves, the female pokes holes in the leaf from below and pushes the fibers through, effectively sewing the nest to the leaf.


  • Size: 18-20 cm (7-8 in)
  • Weight: 24 g (0.85 ounces)
  • Medium-sized oriole.
  • Slender body.
  • Long tail.
  • Long, slightly decurved bill.
  • Male bright orange with black bib, female drab yellow.
Olive yellow on head, rump, and tail. Underparts dull, but brighter yellow. Back dull grayish olive. Two white wingbars, top one broader than lower. Wings dusky.
Immature male resembles adult female, but with a black bib and mask less extensive than adult male. Head, nape, tail, and underparts yellow. Wings dusky gray with two white wingbars. Black bib. Immature female resembles adult female.
Sex Differences
Male colorful bright orange with black mask and throat, female drab and unpatterned. Similar in size.
Entirely orange or orange-yellow head, nape, rump, and underparts. Black bib and narrow mask. Back black, with pale edges in fresh plumages. Wings black with two white wingbars, the upper one wide and bold, the lower one narrow. Tail 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 cucullatus
  • Icterus cucullatus cucullatus
  • Icterus cucullatus igneus
  • Icterus cucullatus nelsoni
  • Icterus cucullatus sennetti
  • Icterus cucullatus trochiloides
Song a rapid, choppy series of warbles. Call note a sharp, nasal "wheet." Also a rolling, dry chatter.

Identification and Information
See Anatomy of a Bird
  • Length Range: 18-20 cm (7-8 in)
  • Weight: 23 g (0.8 oz)
  • Size: 2. Small (5 - 9 in)
  • Color Primary: Black, Yellow
  • Underparts: Orange-yellow
  • Upperparts: Black with orange-yellow rump.
  • Back Pattern: Solid
  • Belly Pattern: Solid
  • Breast Pattern: Solid
  • Bill Shape: Dagger, Curved (up or down)
  • Eye Color: Dark brown.
  • Head Pattern: Plain, Unique pattern
  • Crown Color: Orange-yellow
  • Forehead Color: Orange-yellow
  • Nape Color: Orange-yellow
  • Throat Color: Black
  • Cere color: No Data
  • Flight Pattern: Rapidly beating wings., Strong direct flight.
  • Wingspan Range: 29-30 cm (11.25-12 in)
  • Wing Shape: Pointed-Wings
  • Tail Shape: Squared Tail
  • Tail Pattern: Solid
  • Upper Tail: Black
  • Under Tail: Black
  • Leg Color: Blue-gray
  • Breeding Location: Forest
  • Breeding Type: Monogamous, Solitary nester
  • Breeding Population: Fairly common to common
  • Egg Color: White, yellow or blue with brown and purple marks
  • Number of Eggs: 3 - 5
  • Incubation Days: 12 - 14
  • Egg Incubator: Female
  • Nest Material: Leaves, Mosses., Lined with moss, grasses, wool, hair, and feathers.
  • Migration: Migratory
  • Condition at Hatching: Nearly naked and helpless.

Other Names

Similar Species

  • Oriole masqué (French)
  • Bolsero cuculado, Bolsero encapuchado, Calandria zapotera, Jaranjero (Spanish)
  • Altamira Oriole of south Texas is patterned like a male Hooded Oriole, but is larger and more robust with an orange shoulder and less black on the face.
  • Adult male Bullock's Oriole has a black top of head and nape, a black eyestripe, a large white patch in the wings, and a mostly orange tail with a black tip. First-year male has black eyeline and whitish belly.
  • Orchard Oriole female and first-year male similar to female and first-year male Hooded Oriole, but has shorter tail, shorter, less down-curved bill, and has a distinct second wingbar.
  • Male Streak-backed Oriole is more reddish, has an orange and black streaked back, and a shorter tail. Adult female resembles first-year hooded male, but has a mostly orange, streaked back, two distinct wingbars, and a shorter tail.

Conservation Status

Expanding range in some areas, perhaps as a result of using ornamental trees in urban areas. Lower Rio Grande population decreased markedly in 20th century, perhaps because of cowbird nest parasitism.


Sources used to Construct this Page:

Breeds in areas with scattered trees, such as desert oases and along streams. Also in mesquite brush. Common in urban and suburban areas. Fond of palm trees.
  • Pleasants, B. Y., and D. J. Albano. 2001. Hooded Oriole (Icterus cucullatus). In The Birds of North America, No. 568. (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.
Insects, spiders, nectar, and fruit.
Searches for insects among leaves; may hang upside down. Often perched near ground.

Adult Female

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Additional Photos & Video

Adult Sexes Similar


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

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