Bullock’s Oriole

Icterus bullockii
Range Map

We once thought Baltimore Oriole and the Bullock’s Oriole were the same species. We called it the Northern Oriole. In 1995, committees who make such decisions separated them into the two orioles we know today. The Bullock’s being a western bird and the Baltimore an eastern bird, but the two birds barely look alike. Science has determined by genetic analysis that these two species are not closely related. Yet where their ranges overlap, they will inter-breed and hybridize.

Today, the modern view about Bullock’s Oriole taxonomy proposes two subspecies:

  • I. b. bullockii lives in southwestern Canada south through western USA except central California south to western Arizona and northern Mexico. They spend winters in central Mexico and south to Guatemala.
  • I. b. parvus lives in central California, southern Nevada and western Arizona, and south to northwestern Mexico.

In my explorations of the western USA, I’ve met Bullock’s Orioles in Oregon, Idaho, west Texas, and throughout much of California, including my southern California yard. On my last day in Texas, as I headed towards home in 2020, I found some nice birds at a roadside rest area about one hour east of Fort Stockton (Texas). I’d stopped to break the monotony of the interstate, and I was surprised at how many birds I found. Including Bullock’s Orioles, there were 3 oriole species, 3 flycatcher species, and cactus wrens.

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