CLOSED: Orchard Oriole or Tanager

Linthicum Heights, MD(Zone 7a)

I would appreciate your expert opinion on this photo. I had identified it as a female Orchard Oriole. The photo has been on my website for a number of years but this week, I received the following message.

"I stumbled across this photo on the web. I think you may have a photo of a female tanager here. The bill shape looks more tanager to me versus oriole. Look especially at the upper mandible's thickness and curvature and see if you see the same thing. The wing bars make it sort of confusing, but from the photos I'm finding on the web, there seems to be variation in their presence/absence in tanagers".

He may be correct but I am having difficulty agreeing with his analyses. I've tried to compare the bill with male Orchard Orioles photo that I have.

I would appreciate your opinion, Resin. Others may chime in, also.


Thumbnail by linthicum
Northumberland, United Kingdom(Zone 9a)

Hi Linth,

I can see what he means about the bill shape, particularly that it doesn't look quite as dagger-sharp as icterid bills usually are. But the tail is yellow - correct for female Orchard Oriole, while both Scarlet and Western Tanagers have black or blackish-green tails. So those two can be counted out. Summer Tanager does have a yellow tail - but no wingbars, and a massive bill, so it's not that either. The bill curvature is also OK for O.O., which has a more curved bill than other icterids.

So I'd agree with it being Orchard Oriole, except for one other oddity: the wingbars at least appear to be yellow; O.O. has white wingbars. A trick of the light, or jpeg compression errors, perhaps?

Do you have a higher resolution version you could post, please? As DG auto-downsizes images to 800px maximum width, best to crop tight to the bird so the bird is as large as possible in the pic.


Linthicum Heights, MD(Zone 7a)

Hi Resin,

Thank you so much. I probably can't easily find the original since the photo was taken back on June 24, 2006. Since it was late June, could it be an immature Oriole ? However, I do have another pose of the same bird which may be helpful. The second photo is a female Scarlet Tanager. The difference in bill structure is fairly obvious.

Thanks, again.

Thumbnail by linthicum Thumbnail by linthicum
Northumberland, United Kingdom(Zone 9a)

Thanks! I'd think 24 June is just a mite early for a juv. oriole; if it was fledged by then, it would be a very obvious newly-out-of-nest (soft yellow gape, short tail, perhaps semi-pin feathers). So I'd say adult.

The difference in tail length and colour between the two pics is also obvious!


Linthicum Heights, MD(Zone 7a)

Thanks again, Resin. I appreciate your analysis.

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