About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

There are two oriole species found in Michigan

I was telling my neighbor about my struggle to attract orioles. He says he has several species of orioles visiting his Wild Birds Unlimited feeders. How many species are there in Michigan? ~ St. Johns, MI

There are 9 oriole species in North America. The Baltimore Oriole and the Orchard Oriole are the 2 species that nest in Michigan as well as the Eastern half of the U.S. The Bullock's Oriole and the Scott's Oriole are found in the Western Regions. The Spot-breasted Oriole is found in Central Florida. And the Altamira Oriole, Audubon's Oriole, Hooded Oriole and the Streak-backed Oriole are mainly found in Mexico and some southwestern states.

The Baltimore Orioles have adapted well to human settlement and often feed at nectar/jelly/fruit/mealworm/suet feeders. The Orchard Oriole also may come to eat at our backyard feeders but are not as common. One study found they ate 91% insects and 9% plant materials during the breeding season.

The confusion on the number of species of orioles in Michigan may be because their physical description can vary depending on whether you see a breeding or non-breeding male, female, young, or 1st year oriole.

Adult Baltimore Oriole males have a bright orange body and a solid black hood and back. Their wings are black with white wing bars, and the tail is orange with black streaks. Adult females are paler than males and can range in color from yellow to orange with a brown tweed to blackish head, back and wings. Juveniles are yellowish-brown with dark brown wings that have a white wing bar. And immature Baltimore Orioles are variable. Typically they resemble the female until they grow their adult plumage after they are a year old.

Breeding Orchard Oriole males have dark orange or brick red bodies and a black hood, back and wings. The wings also have chestnut epaulets and a white wing bar and tips. In the fall the non-breeding male grows chestnut-tipped feathers which may obscure the black coloration.

Breeding Orchard Oriole females are bright greenish yellow below, olive-green above with brownish wings that have two narrow white wingbars. Non- breeding females are duller in color.

Juvenile Orchard Orioles of both sexes are similar in appearance to adult females, but they are browner above and more yellow below

Second year males are similar to adult females, but have a solid black bib and black between the eye and bill. How much black adult plumage varies considerably between individuals, with some males of this age having blacker feathering than others. 

Related Articles: 
- Facts on the Baltimore Oriole http://bit.ly/GzSTbi
- Where do orioles winter? http://bit.ly/GAeWv5
- Close-up of Baltimore Oriole http://bit.ly/GAf6T7
- When can I expect my orioles to arrive? http://goo.gl/OHrCc

No comments: