Turpial Hortelano/Orchard Oriole/Icterus spurius

Foto: Francisco Piedrahita

Nombre en español: Turpial Hortelano

Nombre en ingles: Orchard Oriole

Nombre científico: Icterus spurius

Familia: Icteridae

Canto: Andrew Spencer

El turpial castaño (Icterus spurius), también denominado turpial hortelanoturpial de los huertosbolsero castañocalandria castaña y chichiltote castaño,​ es una especie de ave paseriforme de la familia Icteridae propia de América. Es un pájaro migratorio que cría en el este de Norteamerica y pasa el invierno en América Central y el norte de Sudamérica.


Es de pequeño tamaño, de 16 cm de longitud y un peso de unos 16 g. Los adultos tienen rayas blancas en las alas. El macho adulto es castaño en las partes inferiores y negro en las superiores. La hembra adulta es verde oliva en las partes superiores, y amarillenta en el pecho y el vientre.

Distribución y hábitat

Su hábitat de cría son áreas semiabiertas con árboles caducifolios desde el este de Norteamérica hasta el centro de México, a menudo cerca del agua. Migra en bandadas para pasar el invierno en el sur de México, Centroamérica, hasta el norte de Colombia y al noroeste de Venezuela.

Foto: Juan Pablo Arboleda


El nido es una bolsa firmemente tejida unida a una rama horizontal. Pueden anidar en pequeñas colonias.

Buscan alimento entre los árboles y arbustos. También realizan vuelos cortos para atrapar insectos y libar flores. Su alimentación se basa principalmente en insectos, bayas, néctar y flores.

Foto: Juan Pablo Arboleda


El nombre de spurius (falso) se debe a la identificación errónea inicial del macho con una hembra de turpial de Baltimore.

Foto: Francisco Piedrahita

Orchard oriole

The orchard oriole (Icterus spurius) is the smallest species of icterid. The subspecies of the Caribbean coast of Mexico, I. s. fuertesi, is sometimes considered a separate species, the ochre oriole or Fuertes’s oriole.


This species is 6.3 in (16 cm) long and weighs 20 g (0.71 oz). The bill is pointed and black with some blue-gray at the base of the lower mandible (Howell and Webb 1995). The adult male of the nominate subspecies has chestnut on the underparts, shoulder, and rump, with the rest of the plumage black. In the subspecies I. s. fuertesi, the chestnut is replaced with ochre (Howell and Webb 1995). The adult female and the juvenile of both subspecies have olive-green on the upper parts and yellowish on the breast and belly. All adults have pointed bills and white wing bars. (Orchard orioles are considered to be adults after their second year.) One-year-old males are yellow-greenish with a black bib.

Foto: Carlos Mario Bran

Habitat and range

The breeding habitat is semi-open areas with deciduous trees. I. s. spurius breeds in spring across eastern North America from near the Canada–United States border south to central Mexico. A 2009 study also found breeding in the thorn forest of Baja California Sur and the coast of Sinaloa during the summer «monsoon»; this region had previously been thought to be only a migratory stopover (Rohwer, Hobson, and Rohwer, 2009). I. s. fuertesi breeds from southern Tamaulipas to Veracruz (Howell and Webb 1995). These birds enjoy living in shaded trees within parks along lakes and streams. The nest is a tightly woven pouch attached to a fork on a horizontal branch. Their nests tend to sit close together.

The nominate subspecies’ winter range extends from the coastal lowlands of central Sinaloa and southern Veracruz south to northern Colombia and northwestern Venezuela (Scharf and Kren 1996). The ochre subspecies has been observed in winter on the Pacific slope of Mexico (Howell and Webb 1995).

Nominate orchard orioles depart from their winter habitats in March and April and arrive in their breeding habitats from late April to late May. Usually, they leave their breeding territories in late July and early August and arrive on their winter territories in mid August. These birds are nocturnal migrants.


While in breeding season, they eat insects and spiders. When the season changes, their diet also includes ripe fruit, which quickly passes through their digestive tract. During the winter, their diet consists of fruit, nectar, insects and seeds.


When in flight, orchard orioles generally swoop close to the ground and fly at or below treetop level

During courtship, females display themselves in three ways. The first is by bowing their head and torso toward the male. Seesawing, the second courtship display, involves repetitively alternating lowering and raising the head and tail. The third display is begging, which is fast-paced fluttering of wings halfway extended, followed by a high whistle.


The specific name spurius refers to the original misidentification of the male as a female Baltimore oriole. These birds are sometimes mistakenly identified as New World warblers.

A widely distributed breeder east of the Rocky Mountains, the Orchard Oriole shows a distinct preference for riparian zones, floodplains, marshes and the shorelines of large rivers and lakes. In addition, it often nests in shade trees and open shrublands, seeming to thrive in habitats with low-density human intrusion, such as farms and parklands. This species eats mostly arthropods, gleaned from foliage, but its diet also includes small, ripe fruit, as well as nectar in southern and overwintering localities. Only loosely territorial, it is often described as a «semicolonial» species in areas of prime habitat, but it is relatively solitary in marginal habitats. Areas of dense nesting often have multiple nests per tree that are easily seen during leafless seasons.

This Nearctic-Neotropical migrant leaves its wintering grounds in March and April, sometimes returning south as early as mid-July. It nests late and raises only a single brood, to accommodate this migratory schedule. The short time spent on the breeding grounds has made it difficult to define breeding-locality specimens in museum collections, because of the great number of transient birds on spring and autumn migration. Many presumed breeding specimens may actually be passage birds.

The Orchard Oriole is the smallest oriole in North America. Adult males (after-second-year) have distinctive black and chestnut plumage, while yearling males (hatch-year and second-year) are yellow-greenish with a black bib. Females of any age, and recent fledglings of both sexes, are similar to hatch-year and second-year males but lack the black bib. This sexual dichromatism allows easy separation of two age classes of males from females during all seasons. Such ease of identification of age and sex makes this an excellent species for modeling demographic dynamics.

Studies of the breeding biology of Orchard Orioles include Clawson 1980 (western Nebraska), Dennis 1948 (Mississippi Delta), Enstrom 1992b and 1993 (Illinois), Sealy 1980 (Manitoba), Stevenson 1979 (Florida), and Thomas 1946 (Arkansas). The adaptive significance of delayed plumage maturation in the species has been studied by Enstrom 1992b and 1993, Rowher 1978, and Rowher et al. 1980. Spring and summer food habits and diet have been studied by Scharf and Kren 1997, and Wunderle 1980. Enstrom 1992a and Morton 1979 have studied feeding and dominance hierarchies of wintering Orchard Orioles in their neotropical habitats.

Fuentes: Wikipedia/eBird/xeno-canto/Neotropical Birds

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