• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Hooded Oriole - BirdForum Opus

Adult Western male
Photo © by Marysan
at Mission Trails Regional Park, San Diego, California, 2 May 2005
Icterus cucullatus


Adult female, before release
Photo © by Helen Baines
At a banding station, Concan, Texas Hill Country, 28 April 2005

18-20 cm (7-8 in),

  • Long graduated tail
  • Long, thin, downward curved bill

Breeding male

  • Orange-yellow head and nape
  • Black back, face, throat, and upper breast
  • Black wings have two white bars
  • Black tail


  • Olive-grey upperparts
  • Yellow-green underparts, mostly with grey flanks
  • Upper wing bar stronger than lower

Juvenile: similar to female; male may show black on throat

Geographic variation

Western birds are generally shorter tailed, and males have less orange on heads and body. Flank color in females varies but not necessarily with an east-west division.

Similar Species

On males notice the black facial mask goes down perpedicular to the line from eye to upper bill, so that the black area constitutes a square. Similar, black-faced, species have an angle smaller than 90 deg.

Females can be quite similar to female Orchard Oriole, which is smaller, have square tail, shorter stouter bill with almost straight culmen, usually brighter green on upperside and brighter, more evenly colored underside including the flanks.


Male, subspecies I. c. igneus
Photo © by stephennj
Cancun, Mexico, 18 June 2004

Breeds from central California, Nevada, central Arizona, southern New Mexico, and southern Texas southward through Mexico to Belize. Some of the Mexican breeders seems to have bred already in the same summer in the US before migrating to Mexico for their second round of nesting.

A few spend winters in southern California and southern Texas, most of the rest winter in Mexico.

Casual vagrant to Oregon and Washington. Accidental vagrant to Ontario, Quebec, and Louisiana.



Eastern male, subspecies I. c. sennetti
Photo © by bobsofpa
Rest Area on US 77, Kenedy County, Texas, USA, 23 April 2005

Currently, six subspecies are recognized by Clements[1], with several others considered synonyms[2]:
Eastern Group

  • I. c. sennetti:
  • Southern Texas (lower Rio Grande Valley) to eastern Mexico (Tamaulipas)
  • I. c. cucullatus:
  • South-western Texas (Del Rio) to south-eastern Mexico (Veracruz and Oaxaca)

Western Group

  • I. c. nelsoni:
  • Central California to northern Baja and north-western Mexico (southern Sonora, northern Chihuahua)
  • I. c. trochiloides:
  • I. c. restrictus:
  • North-western Mexico (southern Sonora)
  • I. c. igneus (Yucatan):
  • Yucatan Peninsula, Cozumel, Contoy, Holbox and Mujeres Island to Belize


Usually found in scrubby or open woods, desert, urban gardens and forests. Observed at heights around 5000 feet.



Photo © by ducbucln
Kelseyville, California, 24 August 2016

They nest in tall trees, often in fan palms, cottonwoods, sycamores, oaks, and eucalyptus. The cup-shaped nest is made by the female and suspended from branches. The 3-5 white, pale yellow or pale blue eggs are incubated for about 12-14 days, by the female.

Their nests in California become parasitized by both the Bronzed Cowbird and Brown-headed Cowbird.


Diet includes fruit, nectar, and insects.


Described as variable but not necessarily loud or striking.
Song is a rapid, variable warble.
Calls include a dry chatter, chek and tchek sounds, etc.


Click on image to enlarge


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Lepage D. (2020) Hooded_Oriole in Avibase - The World Bird Database. Retrieved 15April 2020
  3. Sievert Rohwer, Keith A. Hobson, Vanya G. Rohwer (2009) Migratory double breeding in Neotropical migrant birds. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0908121106
  4. Howell, SNG and S Webb. 1995. A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America. New York: Oxford Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0198540120
  5. Pleasants, B. Y. and D. J. Albano (2020). Hooded Oriole (Icterus cucullatus), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.hooori.01

Recommended Citation

External Links

Search the Gallery for Hooded Oriole videos:

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.1