Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2021-34

Common name:

Orchard Oriole

Scientific name: Icterus spurius
Date: 6/4/2021
Time: 8:30am
Length of time observed: 10 minutes
Number: 1
Age: 2nd year
Sex: male
Location: Tracy Aviary's Jordan River Nature Center
County: Salt Lake
Latilong: 40.694932071492076 -111.9213371258229
Elevation: 4350
Distance to bird: about 10m
Optical equipment: Nikon10x42 Binoculars
Weather: Sunny, clear, calm and 75F
Light Conditions: Backlit by the low morning sun but otherwise good
Description:        Size of bird: Medium sized songbird
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Classic passerine shape
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: overall mustard yellow
(Description:)            Bill Type: shortish but decurved
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Heard an unfamiliar call in the top of a Hackberry Tree, looked up and saw an Oriole that was entirely mustard yellow with a heavy black throat and dark lores giving a masked look. Back and wings were grayish with 2 bold wing bars. Alone in the top of a tree so no frame of reference for size, but seemed compact and short tailed. Bill was silvery and short but decurved. Actively feeding on bugs in the canopy calling. I played the Sibley app calls to compare with what I was hearing, perfect match for Orchard but the bird didn't react. Photos show some spots of reddish orange coming in on the breast which is consistent with OROR of that age as well
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: The call is what grabbed my attention as I didn't recognize it, a sharp harsh clicking chit mixed with single plaintiff whistles. Very different from the chatter calls of a Bullocks or the Veet calls of a Hooded that I'm very familiar with
Behavior: Actively feeding on some insects in the canopy of a cultivated Hackberry Tree the whole time I watched it
Habitat: Cultivated lawn and ornamental trees of Assisted Living home, but less than 200m from Jordan River, riparian corridor.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Bullocks: 2nd year males are a similar color but oranger, and have a contrasting pale belly and the black on the throat is much narrower and limited with a dark line through the eye, different more chattery calls.

Hooded Oriole: 2nd year males are very similar but structurally different with a long tail in proportion and a longer bill which makes the bird seem larger. Also usually have only 1 wing bar and less black in the lores and face giving a blank faced look, but those traits are variable. Calls very different, repeated distinctive Veet mixed with squeaky song and harsh chatter.

Scott's Oriole: 2nd year male Scott's Oriole variable but usually with messier black markings on head and throat, not usually with the well defined throat and mask like this bird. Structurally longer tailed and longer billed. Color more greenish yellow on the belly and much darker on the back. Calls a more simple chuck and other harsh notes quite different from the chit calls I heard. I've seen many Scott's Oriole of all age and sex classes.

I can't find any photos of SY male hybrid HOOD X BUOR for comparison but would probably look more BUOR like? Very different from any BUOR X BAOR hybrid combination. I'd expect a BUOR hybrid to sound more like a BUOR, but that could be a flawed assumption?

I'd be interested in hearing others perspectives on this bird with more experience with SY male Orchard and Hooded Orioles. Lay it on me

Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Yes, I've seen many adult males and females in Texas and Mexico, but can't say I've ever seen a 2nd year male before. I've seen many Bullock's and Hooded of all age and sex classes.
References consulted: Sibley 'Birds of North America' app, Macaulay Library images
Description from: Notes taken at the time of the sighting
From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Bryant Olsen
Observer's address: 84102
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: I was with Liz Anderson who also saw the bird
Date prepared: 6/4/21
Additional material: Photos  
Additional comments: eBird checklist: