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11 Birds that look like orioles

Birds that look like orioles

Whether you’re a birder or just love birds, there’s something special about the Oriole. With their bright colors and playful nature, they’re definitely one of my favorite species. But did you know that there are several other birds that look like orioles? 

Orioles frequently visits your backyard and are considered master of nest building. More than 30 species of Orioles are native to the US. Some of them get the status of the state bird, like the Baltimore Oriole, the state bird of Maryland. 

In this article, We will introduce you to some of these birds and give you a few tips on how to tell them apart. So if you’re ever lucky enough to see an oriole in the wild, be sure to take a closer look! You might just spot one of these lookalikes instead.


11 Birds That Look Like Orioles

Orioles are often confused with other bird species due to similar features. It is important to closely look at the plumage pattern, size, habitat, diet, and song of a bird before considering it an Oriole. This article will help you identify the critical differences in identifying 11 birds that look like Orioles.

American Robin

The American Robins are easy to identify because they are one of the most common birds found in North America. They are considered short-distance migratory birds that travel south to the US or Mexico as long as a thousand miles away from their home in winter

They have similar sizes to Orioles with somewhat identical feather patterns. A warm orange plumage on their underbody and a gray-brown upper body make them resemble an oriole. When talking about differences, the American Robin has a yellow beak, while the Oriole has a black beak. Moreover, the Oriole has short legs as compared to an American Robin.

Both birds have different dietary choices. The American Robin mostly eats insects, earthworms, snails, and wild berries, while Orioles crave fruits like oranges and grape jelly. The Oriole turns exclusively to insects after nesting.

Blackburnian Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler

The Blackburnian Warbler looks very similar to an Oriole, only slightly smaller. It has a bulky body with a medium-sized tail and a short, pointed bill. Thus we have put it on the list of birds that look like orioles.

A male Blackburnian Warbler has bright orange and black feathers covering its face and throat. The upper part of the body is black with white lines, while the lower body is white. Moreover, their eye area is prominent with a black stripe

They are medium-distance migratory birds that travel between North and South America twice a year. The main differences between an Oriole and a Blackburnian Warbler include size, color contrast, and dietary requirements.

The Blackburnian Warbler is tinier in size, has extra white color, and eats insects, especially caterpillars. 

American Redstart

American Redstart
Image by: naturespicsonline.com

The American Redstart often gets confused with the Oriole due to its black and orange plumage. It is a small bird compared to an Oriole with a long tail, chunky body, and a flat, wide beak. 

The American Redstart has a black head, throat, and back, with white bellies and orange sides. They are native to North America and breed in Alaska, Canada, and the US. They are long-distance migratory birds that spend their winter in South America. The smaller size, body percentage of black color, and diet of the American Redstart differentiate it from the Oriole. They feed on mosquitoes, beetles, and tree sap and prefer living in moist conditions with many shrubs.

Black-Headed Grosbeak

Black-Headed Grosbeak
Image by: naturespicsonline.com

The Black-headed Grosbeak is almost identical to the Oriole in black and orange plumage. The black upperparts, orange underparts, and wings with white patches are the visible traits of a Black-headed Grosbeak. The other features include a large head and short neck and tail.

It is a medium-sized songbird that is native to the US and Canada. They are migratory birds covering medium to long distances in the migratory season. The western part of the United States is their breeding ground, and they travel south to Mexico to spend winter. 

The visible difference between an Oriole and a Black-headed Grosbeak is the size of their beak. The Black-headed Grosbeak has a large-sized conical beak, while an Oriole has a small-sized pointy beak.

Eastern Towhee

Birds that look like orioles

Due to its similar size and striking plumage, the Eastern Towhee is often confused with orioles. Hence, you are reading it among other birds that look like orioles. It has bright orange-red sides, a blackhead, throat and upper body, and white underparts. The only difference from a male is the female birds have a more brownish plumage. 

It has a chunky body, rounded tail, and large beak. The thick and triangular beak helps an Eastern Towhee to crack seeds for diet. It is also a typical victim of nest parasitism. The most striking difference between an Oriole and an Eastern Towhee is the beak size and color. The Orioles have a black pointy beak, while Eastern Towhees have a yellowish triangular beak.

Spotted Towhee

Spotted Towhee

The Spotted Towhee is native to North America, especially Florida and the east coast of Canada. It has an identical plumage to an Eastern Towhee. The only difference is the white spots on its wings rather than marks. 

The Spotted Towhee is a short-distance migratory bird that is a little shy and prefers to avoid populated areas. It usually abodes near forests and meadows with a large number of trees. 

It is often confused with Orioles due to its similar size and plumage. Still, with a bit of attention, the difference becomes visible. The Spotted Towhee has a longer neck and beak than the orioles.

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

The Barn Swallow is native to North America and can be spotted year long, even in winters. They built their nests near shelters like barns and sheds. 

It is a songbird with a small body, wide wingspan, and long tail. The dark blue and rusty-brown color plumage makes it look identical to an Oriole. So,It is on the list of birds that look like orioles.

The Barn Swallows are long-distance migratory birds that travel to Mexico in winter before breeding in and around Canada, Alaska, and the US in summer. They are different from an Oriole in their dietary habits. The Barn Swallows eat insects by catching them in midair, while Orioles are more of fruit esters.

Varied Thrush

Birds that look like orioles

The Varied Thrush has a chunky body with a dark bluish-gray and burnt orange plumage. It is often confused with an Oriole due to similar patterns. However, a dark bluish-gray circle going eye-to-eye in the Varied Thrush is a glaring difference. 

It is a short-distance migratory bird that travels to the Southern hemisphere in winter after breeding in the Western part of Alaska. While breeding, they prefer isolated areas in mature forests and come out in winter to show spectacular views in populated areas.

Bullock’s Oriole

It is a common Oriole species found in the Western US in the breeding season while traveling towards Southern parts to spend winter. Because it comes from the same family, we have placed it on the list of birds that look like orioles.

It has an orange and gray plumage with black eyeliner and a large white wing patch. It is the brightest on the face as compared to the breast. The Bullock’s Oriole has more yellowish feathers and a grayish beak. In contrast, an Oriole has bright orange feathers and a black beak. 

Orchard Oriole

The Orchard Oriole has a deep chestnut brown plumage with a black head. In contrast, an Oriole has a bright orange color scheme. They breed throughout the US and migrate towards Mexico and Central America. They eat insects, arthropods, and some fruits. 

The female Orchard Oriole builds most of the nest and completes it within six days. The clutch of eggs ranges from 4 to 6 with a 12-14 days incubation period.

Western Tanager 

Last but not least, the Western Tanager is a medium-sized songbird with almost identical dimensions to an Oriole. They represent a yellow and black plumage with white barred black wings and tails. The most striking feature is their flaming orange head. 

They are long-distance migratory birds that breed in the Western US and travel to the South towards Mexico in winter. It is often confused with an Oriole due to the plumage, but the bright head color gives it away.

Frequently Asked Questions 

If you still have some questions about the birds that look like Orioles, we have arranged a list of the most frequently asked questions. 

What is the difference between an Oriole and a Baltimore Oriole?

These birds are almost identical in size and plumage. The only difference is color contrast. The Baltimore Oriole has more yellowish plumage than the Oriole, which has a bright orange color. 

Moreover, the Oriole has a bright orange head and a black eyepatch. In contrast, the Baltimore Oriole has an entirely black head. 

What does it mean when an Oriole visits you?

The Orioles start appearing in your backyard at the start of spring. So, when you see an Oriole, the spring has already begun. Hang oranges cut in half to attract more of these sweet singers and enjoy their company.

What’s the difference between a robin and SM Oriole?

The Robin is more of a gray bird than an Oriole, which is bright orange. The other difference is the beak color; Robin has a yellow beak, while an Oriole has a black beak. Their diet is also different; the Robin eats more insects and fewer berries, while an Oriole only eats fruits and nectars.

Final Words

It is easy to confuse swinging birds with Oriolesdue to their similar plumage, size, and songs. But, a little careful observation and differences pointed out in this article can make you pro to identify birds that look like Orioles.

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