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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Female Orchard Oriole, Rio Grande Valley, Texas

The Orchard Oriole, Icterus spurius, is the smallest species of icterid blackbird at 6.3 inches (16 cm) long and a weight of 20 g. The specific name spurius refers to the original misidentification of the male as a female Baltimore Oriole. These birds are sometimes mistakenly identified as New World warblers.

The adult has a pointed bill and white wing bars. The adult male is chestnut on the underparts, shoulder and rump, with the rest of the plumage being black. One-year males are yellow with a black bib. The adult female is olive-green on the upper parts, yellowish on the breast and belly.

The breeding habitat is semi-open areas with deciduous trees across eastern North America south to central Mexico, often near water. The nest is a tightly woven pouch attached to a fork on a horizontal branch. In some parts of their range, they may nest in small colonies.

These birds migrate in flocks for wintering from central Mexico south through Central America to northern Colombia and northwestern Venezuela. In the Caribbean, they can often be found on the Bahamas, Cuba, Cayman Islands, Jamaica and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

They forage in trees and shrubs, also making short flights to catch insects and feed from flowers. These birds mainly eat insects, particular fruit[1] and nectar, and also other plantstuff.

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