Birds – Orchard Oriole

(Icterus spurius)


Length—7 to 7.3 inches. About one-fourth smaller than the robin.

Male—Head, throat, upper back, tail, and part of wings black. Breast, rump, shoulders, under wing and tail coverts, and under parts bright reddish brown. Whitish-yellow markings on a few tail and wing feathers.

Female—Head and upper parts olive, shading into brown; brighter on head and near tail. Back and wings dusky brown, with pale-buff shoulder-bars and edges of coverts. Throat black. Under parts olive, shading into yellow.

Range—Canada to Central America. Common in temperate latitudes of the United States.

Migrations—Early May. Middle of September. Common summer resident.

With a more southerly range than the Baltimore oriole and less conspicuous coloring, the orchard oriole is not so familiar a bird in many Northern States, where, nevertheless, it is quite common enough to be classed among our would-be intimates. The orchard is not always as close to the house as this bird cares to venture; he will pursue an insect even to the piazza vines.

His song, says John Burroughs, is like scarlet, “strong, in-tense, emphatic,” but it is sweet and is more rapidly uttered than that of others of the family. It is ended for the season early in July.

This oriole, too, builds a beautiful nest, not often pendent like the Baltimore’s, but securely placed in the fork of a sturdy fruit tree, at a moderate height, and woven with skill and precision, like a basket. When the dried grasses from one of these nests were stretched and measured, all were found to be very nearly the same length, showing to what pains the little weaver had gone to make the nest neat and pliable, yet strong. Four cloudy-white eggs with dark-brown spots are usually found in the nest in June.