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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

Orchard Oriole -- Icterus spurius

RANGE: Breeds from southeastern Saskatchewan, southern Manitoba, and central Minnesota east to northern Massachusetts, south to Mexico, Texas, the Gulf Coast and central Florida, and west to eastern Colorado. Winters from Mexico to South America, casually to southern Texas, rarely in coastal California.

STATUS: Locally common, but populations are decreasing from Kansas to Alabama.

HABITAT: Prefers orchards and open country with a few scattered trees. Also breeds in residential areas, farmlands, shelterbelts, woodland margins, and lightly wooded river bottoms. At times, it may inhabit marshes and bordering trees. Heavily wooded or dense forests are avoided.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Open woodlands or open areas with scattered trees.

NEST: Suspends semipendulous nest, well concealed by dense foliage, from a fork or crotch of a variety of trees and shrubs 4 to 70 feet, typically 10 to 20 feet, above the ground. Commonly nests in trees also supporting Eastern kingbird nests.

FOOD: Gleans insects, which form over 90 percent of the diet, from leaves of trees and shrubs. Also eats fruits.

REFERENCES: Bent 1958, DeGraff et al. 1980, Dennis 1948, Forbush and May 1955, Johnsgard 1979, Tate and Tate 1982.

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