Icterus cucullatushooded oriole

Geographic Range

Hooded Orioles are found in North America. March through mid-September Hooded Orioles are found from Southern Texas through central California. By the end of September they migrate south to Mexico (Garret and Dunn 1981).


The Hooded Oriole can be described as a neotropical migrant. These birds are typically found in riparian areas. Humans have planted many species of non-native trees. These trees have increased the numbers of nesting sites available for the orioles. As a result the orioles can also be found in some decidous and riparian woodlands and human habitations, often by ranches or towns. (Ahlborn, Readers Digest 1990).

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • rivers and streams

Physical Description

Hooded Orioles are sexually dimorphic. The male has an orange-yellow coloring with a black face, tail, wings and back. The wings on the bird will have two white bars of feathers. While the female has the same two white bars on her wings, her coloring is an olive-green with a yellowish shade underneath. Both male and female are the same in size, ranging from 112-128 cm (7-8 in.) long. The bill of the Hooded Oriole has a slight down curve that comes to a sharp point, enabling them to feed off tubular flowers (Readers Digest 1990).


Breeding season for this Oriole starts from early April to early May. The male will flutter around the female singing soft melodies with his bill open and pointing upward; the female will respond to the male in the same manner.

The nests can be found in a tall tree, preferably in a fan palm. Other trees regularly used for nesting include cottonwoods, sycamores, live oaks, and eucalyptus. The nest is built 2 - 15 meters (6-45 feet) above ground to protect against any unwanted predators. These nests are penduline (hang from branches )and the nesting chamber is cup shaped about 10 cm (4 inches) in depth and about the same in width. They are suspended by twigs and woven with string, dry vegitation, and any other fiberous materials that can be found. The female is the main builder of these nests; it takes her 3-5 days to complete it.

Typically 3-5 eggs are laid in the nest. The incubation period for those eggs is about 12-14 days, and they incubated only by the female. Their eggs are white, pale yellow or pale blue. They are lightly spotted with a grayish brown coloring. The hatching of the eggs usually takes place mid to late summer. The young are tended to by both parents and will leave the nest about 14 days after being hatched (Baicich 1997, Ehrlich 1988, Readers Digest 1990, Terres 1980).

  • Average eggs per season
  • Average time to hatching
    13 days



The Hooded Oriole is a social species. They tend to flock with related birds such as the Bullocks Oriole. Hooded Orioles move around, mostly up and down the southwest coast, while migrating to Mexico in the wintertime.

Jays, ravens and crows prey upon eggs and young nestling Orioles. Adult birds are occasionally preyed upon by various raptor species. Their nests in California become parasitized by both the bronzed and brown-headed cowbirds.

(Choate 1985)

The Hooded Oriole sings short songs of mimicry that sound sweet and soothing.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

The Hooded Oriole's diet consists mostly of fruit, nectar, and insects. This bird will forage in shrubs and trees to find the insects and fruit. The nectar can be extracted from such plants as agaves, aloes, hibiscus, lilies, and other tubular flowers. That is where their pointed bill becomes useful: it will pierce the base of the flower to obtain the nectar. By doing this it will not pollinate the flower (Baicich 1997, Terres 1980, Readers Digest 1990).

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Hooded Orioles eat a significant number of insects which are considered agricultural pests.

Conservation Status


Melanie Prichard (author), Fresno City College, Carl Johansson (editor), Fresno City College.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


Found in coastal areas between 30 and 40 degrees latitude, in areas with a Mediterranean climate. Vegetation is dominated by stands of dense, spiny shrubs with tough (hard or waxy) evergreen leaves. May be maintained by periodic fire. In South America it includes the scrub ecotone between forest and paramo.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.


A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.


uses sight to communicate


Ahlborn, G. "California Department of Fish and Game: Hooded Oriole" (On-line). Accessed Mar. 23, 2001 at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/whdab/B530.html.

Baicich, P., C. Harrison. 1997. The Nests, Eggs, & Nestlings of North American Birds. San Diego: Acadamic Press.

Choate, E. 1985. Dictionary of American Bird Names. Boston and Harvard Mass.: Harvard Common Press.

Ehrlich, P. 1988. The Birders Handbook. New York: simon & Schuster Inc..

Garret, K., J. Dunn. 1981. Birds of Southern California. Los Angeles: Aududon Society.

Readers, D. 1990. Book of North American Birds. New York: Readers Digest Ass..

Terres, J. 1980. Audubon Society, Encylopedia of North American Birds. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc..