The orchard oriole feeds mainly on insects and spiders, especially during the breeding season (2) (4). During the winter, this species’ diet includes fruit, insects, spiders, and nectar (2) (4). This bird is known to forage individually, as well as in groups, and during the non-breeding season, flocks of up to 400 individuals have been observed (2) (4). Groups of both fledgling and mature orchard orioles gather around puddles to drink (2).
The orchard oriole’s breeding season starts in April in some areas, and extends throughout the summer months, with some birds having more than one brood per season. The nest is intricately woven from grass by the female over around six days, and lined with fine grass, feathers or cotton (4). The nest is usually attached to the fork of a branch (4), away from the main trunk of the tree (2) (6). The choice of host tree varies greatly, and this species has also been known to nest in giant canes and Spanish moss (2) (4) (7). Both males and females take part in courtship displays, which include bowing, wing fluttering and, in males only, a flight display (2).
A typical orchard oriole clutch contains between three and seven eggs (4). The eggs of this species are oval and pale blue, with dark purplish-brown blotches, spots, dots or irregular lines, mainly towards the larger end (2) (4). The average orchard oriole egg is around 20.7 millimetres long and 14.5 millimetres wide (4).
The female orchard oriole incubates its eggs for between 12 and 14 days, while the male guards the nest, and may feed the female throughout the incubation period (4). Both sexes are involved in the maintenance of the nest and feeding of the young. There is some evidence of co-operative breeding in this species, although it does not always occur. The orchard oriole is thought to be seasonally monogamous on the whole, although pair bonds are not thought to be maintained between years (2).
Brood parasitism by the brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater) frequently occurs in many areas within the range of the orchard oriole (2) (4). The brown-headed cowbird is known to lay its eggs in the nest of this species, and its hatchlings are then fed alongside the orchard oriole chicks, to their detriment (2).
The orchard oriole is a long-distance migratory bird, breeding in eastern North America between of March and August, before travelling south to spend winter in Central America and northern South America (4).