Hooded Oriole

Icterus cucullatus

  • Version: 2.0 — Published January 1, 2001
  • Barbara Y. Pleasants and Daniel J. Albano

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Figure 1. Distribution of the Hooded Oriole.
Adult male Hooded Oriole, Arizona, July

Pima Co., AZ, July 2006.  Males of the southwestern subspecies nelsoni have longer bills and wings than those of south Texas and east Mexico. They also lack substantial orange tones to the plumage. This image came from CLO's Birdshare Flickr Pool. The following link is to this contributer's Flickr stream or website. http://www.flickr.com/photos/32019105@N08/, Jul 11, 2006; photographer Sam Wilson

Adult female Hooded Oriole

Definitive Basic plumage

Male Hooded Orioles have a striking orange hood, which has given the species its name. Distributed through the southwestern United States, most of Mexico, and south into Belize, this species frequents open woods, thickets, palms, and shade trees, including those in suburban yards. It feeds on insects, nectar, and fruit. Adult males are orange-crowned and black-throated, females olive green and yellow; both sexes have 2 white wing-bars. The quiet song and chatter of this species make it less conspicuous than many other orioles.

The nest is a woven structure composed of grass, palm, or yucca fibers and placed high in a tree. In California, nests are so commonly found in palms that one early common name for the race of Hooded Oriole occurring there was the Palm-leaf Oriole. Ornamental plantings of palms, especially those with fan-shaped leaves (such as Washingtonia and Sabal), were quickly adopted by this species from southern Texas to California and led to range expansion. Although fond of palms everywhere in its range, Hooded Orioles appear most strongly associated with palms in California, especially in suburban yards and streets.

Recent declines of this species in some areas may be the result of parasitism by Brown-headed (Molothrus ater) and Bronzed (M. aeneus) cowbirds. Changes in agricultural crops and practices have led to increased cowbird populations. Early visitors to the lower Rio Grande valley commented on the great abundance of Hooded Orioles there; now the species is rare in the region.

With the exception of a population survey by Rappole and Klicka (Rappole and Klicka 1991), recent information on Hooded Orioles is scattered in field guides, faunal lists, and brief anecdotal accounts. Little has been published on basic life history since Bent 1958 .

Recommended Citation

Pleasants, B. Y. and D. J. Albano (2001). Hooded Oriole (Icterus cucullatus), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (A. F. Poole and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bna.568