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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Northern Oriole -- Icterus galbula

RANGE: Breeds from southern interior British Columbia and central Alberta to central Maine and central Nova Scotia, south to southern Texas, Mexico, the central Gulf States, central North Carolina, and Delaware. Winters along the Gulf Coast and from Mexico to South America.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: In the East, inhabits orchards, deciduous forest edges, wooded river bottoms, upland forests, partially wooded suburban areas, parks, and shelterbelts. In the west, prefers semiarid mesquite groves and deciduous trees bordering streams or irrigation ditches in open country, prairie, or cultivated areas.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Tall deciduous trees for nesting.

NEST: Usually attaches pendant nest by its rim to the tip of a long drooping branch, 9 to 70 feet, but typically 25 to 30 feet above the ground. Most frequently uses large trees, especially elms and cottonwoods growing in the open, but will use a wide variety of deciduous trees throughout its range.

FOOD: Primarily gleans insects from leaf and twig surfaces; also eats a few spiders and some wild and cultivated fruit.

REFERENCES: Bent 1958, DeGraff et al. 1980, Forbush and May 1955, Johnsgard 1979, Typer in Bent 1958.

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