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.

Interesting Information

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.


Adult Description

  • 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.

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.


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.


Photo taken from: The Sibley Field Guide by David Allen Sibley

© 2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology


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.


Searches for insects among leaves; may hang upside down. Often perched near ground.


Insects, spiders, nectar, and fruit.



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Icteridae
Genus: Icterus
Species: Icterus cucullatus
    Subspecies: Icterus cucullatus cucullatus
  Icterus cucullatus igneus
  Icterus cucullatus nelsoni
  Icterus cucullatus sennetti
  Icterus cucullatus trochiloides

Similar Species

  • 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.

Bird Sound

Song a rapid, choppy series of warbles. Call note a sharp, nasal "wheet." Also a rolling, dry chatter.

Eggs look like this

Photo taken from: ARCTOS Collaborative Collection Management Solution