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19 Orange Birds in Ohio

orange birds in ohio
Baltimore Oriole in Licking, Ohio: Photo by Matthew Plante


Ohio’s mosaic of wetlands, thickets and forests sustains over 400 bird species in vital roles. Among favorites, orange birds contribute special beauty like the Baltimore Oriole at nectar feeders. This article explores some top orange birds in Ohio.

Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)

  • Features: The male has an iridescent green head, giant spoon-shaped bill, deep rusty-orange sides and heavy chestnut plumage laid over the back and wings. Female is cryptically patterned in mottled brown. 
  • Locations: Found during migration and winter on lakes, ponds and wetlands across Ohio after breeding farther north.
  • Fun Fact: Uses its specialized bill to filter small aquatic organisms like seed shrimp and insects from the water as it swims along dabbling and swinging its head.

Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)

  • Features: These compact shorebirds have bright rusty-orange upperparts, head and breast contrasting sharp black and white markings on the wings, back and neck. Swift migrants traveling huge distances.
  • Locations: Seen primarily during migration along Lake Erie and larger rivers across Ohio. Breed in the open Arctic tundra. 
  • Fun Fact: Get their name from habit of overturning stones and debris seeking hidden aquatic invertebrate prey along rocky seashores and tundra nesting grounds.

Red Knot (Calidris canutus)   

  • Features: In breeding plumage shows deep chestnut red feathering on the head, breast and upper flanks. In flight exposes rusty orange underwings. Bills specialized for probing exposed sandy beaches.  Migrates astonishing distances.
  • Locations: Seen during spring migration along Ohio’s Lake Erie shoreline and mudflats. Breeding grounds are near coastal Arctic tundra. 
  • Fun Fact: One of the longest migration routes in the animal kingdom, over 9,000 miles annually. Refuels on horseshoe crab eggs during Delaware Bay stopovers.

American Woodcock (Scolopax minor

  • Features: These chunky shorebirds have intricately patterned brown, black, gray and orange striping on the head and back that provides camouflage while living mostly on the forest floor though taking twilight mating flights. 
  • Locations: Found in young forests statewide near fields. Courting males make a twittering aerial display flight high overhead before zigzagging down. 
  • Fun Fact: Their big eyes set far back on the head gives them near 360-degree vision to detect predators, insects, worms and seeds while probing leaf litter with their long bill.

Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus)  

  • Features: This large shorebird has a long straight dark bill showing cinnamon-red underparts and belly with spotted gray upperparts outside breeding season. In flight, black and white barred wings and white rump visible.
  • Locations: Seen primarily during migration across Ohio at ponds and marshes. Breeds in subarctic bogs and wet tundra. Winters along southern U.S. coasts.  
  • Fun Fact: Unique courtship display has the male flying in loops while singing a fast, laughing call. Nest is a shallow ground scrape. 

Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus)  

  • Features: Smaller dowitcher with gray-toned upperparts and yellow legs. In breeding plumage shows rich dark cinnamon underparts and spotted black and chestnut feathering above. Stout bi-colored bill. 
  • Locations: Found migrating and wintering in Ohio’s marshes, flooded fields and muddy shorelines. Breeds in muskeg bogs across central Canada and Alaska.  
  • Fun Fact: Feeds tactically in tight flocks running ahead of the group probing with bill in wet mud for insects and mollusks. Male has display flight like a butterfly to attract mates.

King Rail (Rallus elegans)  

  • Features: Secretive large rail with cinnamon and black striped upperparts for staying concealed in marshes. Bright rusty-red breast and plump body shape. Small red bill and short tail. Loud pig squeal calls. 
  • Locations: Found breeding in Ohio’s freshwater and brackish marshes with dense cattails and sedges. Winters along Gulf Coast. 
  • Fun Fact: Diet includes aquatic animals like small fish, frogs, mollusks and crustaceans captured via stepping and probing through muddy wetland floors with head lowered and mandible open.

Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola)   

  • Features: Slender rusty-red rail with gray cheeks, slight nasal groove, and long red bill adapted for hunting amid marsh vegetation. Pale brown wings show black and white barring in flight. Call sounds like clicking frogs.
  • Locations: Found year-round inhabiting freshwater marshes statewide. Secretive but more often heard rustling through reeds than seen. 
  • Fun Fact: Hunts by stepping cautiously forward balancing atop mud and vegetation while rapidly probing with an open bill sensing prey movements using hypersensitive bill tip organ and infrared vision specialized for dim conditions. 

American Kestrel (Falco sparverius

  • Features: North America’s smallest falcon has colorful plumage featuring rufous upperparts heavily marked in black with a metallic blue-gray head and long tail. Fierce predators yet also cavity nesters accepting nest boxes. 
  • Locations: Found year-round in semi-open country from pastures to parks statewide. Perches conspicuously on wires or snags watching for prey like insects, mice, shrews and small birds.
  • Fun Fact: Unusual ability among falcons to hover in place by rapid wing flapping as it scrutinizes the ground before dropping suddenly to strike detected prey. 

Barn Owl (Tyto alba)  

  • Features: Pale rusty buff coloring with small dark eyes and heart-shaped facial disk. Wings and back show cryptic spotting. Only owl species found nearly worldwide occupying every continent except Antarctica!  
  • Locations: Found year-round statewide near structures like old barns, bridges and hollow trees offering secluded cavities for roosting and nesting. Hunts surrounding open fields and meadows. 
  • Fun Fact: Specialized feathering allows nearly soundless flight aiding this bird’s acute sense of hearing when homing in on scurrying rodents across grassy hunting grounds.

Eastern Screech Owl (Megascops asio)  

  • Features: Small owl with ear tufts, yellow eyes and bold black and white concentric facial disks. Color varies from dusky gray to bright rusty morphs but all show lighter streaks below. 
  • Locations: Found year-round statewide occupying wooded areas near open lands providing essential food sources and tree cavities. Most active from sundown to sunrise when hunting mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects and crayfish near tucked away roosts allowing daylight slumber.
  • Fun Fact: This diminutive raptor defends nest holes inside natural hollows, woodpecker cavities and nest boxes against much larger intruders with surprising ferocity! 

Veery (Catharus fuscescens)

  • Features: Secretive ground dweller with warm cinnamon brown upperparts, faint necklace streaking and pink legs. White eye ring surrounds dark pupil. Song sounds like a sliding whistle spiraling gently downward through the forest. 
  • Locations: Found breeding seasonally in wet deciduous and mixed forests statewide before migrating south to winter along northwestern portions of South America. 
  • Fun Fact: Nest concealed upon the ground amid thick ferns or tree roots woven from foliage and twigs relies upon camouflage broken only by revealing whitish dots speckling their light breast just above a fuller belly.

Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina)   

  • Features: Medium sized thrush with bold black spotted plumage on white undersides. Head, back, wings and tail colored warm orangey-brown. Flute-like song rings through humid early summer forests. 
  • Locations: Found breeding seasonally in mature Ohio forests with sparse understory. Winters in Central America and southern Mexico. 
  • Fun Fact: Males arrive first on nesting grounds to advertise breeding fitness defending territory through singsong performances hoping to lure admiring females to inspect their woodland abode as worthy for raising next generations. 

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)   

  • Features: Familiar thrush with orangey-red breast sharply contrasting gray backs and black heads. Frequently observed tugging earthworms from moist lawns. Social birds found gathering in larger winter flocks migrating between nest locations.  
  • Locations: Abundant statewide year-round from backyard thickets to parks, forests, fields and most habitats offering feeding and nesting opportunities.
  • Fun Fact: Early returning males publicize breeding fitness and territory ownership through repeated melody singing while competing against neighboring males in late winter through early spring to entice breeding partners as fruit trees start blossoming.  

Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus)  

  • Features: These sparrows have a black hood and tail contrasting rufous flanks. White spotting along wings and tail. Ruby eyes match the short stubby conical bill. Upright stance with cocked tail pumping exposes rust undertail pattern. Prefers rummaging through tangled brush while hopping backwards as it finds various food. 
  • Locations: Found year-round breeding in thickets and forest edges statewide. Increased expanding inland populations winter farther north beneath cover allowing winter feeding thanks to prolific backyard offerings though most overwinter further south throughout the southeastern United States.  
  • Fun Fact: The Eastern Towhee’s classical drink-your-tea song actually resembles the mnemonic sound “Towee! Drink your teeeeea.” Regional dialects show distinct variations across populations spanning eastern and central states.

Orchard Oriole (Icterus spurius)  

  • Features: Colorful black hooded migrant dressed in sharp contrasting rufous undersides with white wing bars. Short pointed bill suits their diet dominated by insects, fruits and nectar. construct woven pendant nests high towards branch tips. 
  • Locations: Found summering statewide across open scattered woods near backyard feeders, rivers and fields. Winters in Central America.  
  • Fun Fact: The breeding male’s bold orangey feathers stand out dramatically against sleek jet black bibs giving them an almost Hallowe’en appearance. Some birds overwinter sporadically across extreme southern regions of the U.S. amid seasonal warming trends. 

Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)   

  • Features: Males shine brilliant orange contrasting glossy black heads, wings, tails and backs plus faint white spotting and wing bars. The female appears more yellowish olive overall lacking sharp patterning. Long notched tail and pointed bill.
  • Locations: Found breeding in tall roadside trees and scattered open woods statewide. Winters in Central America. 
  • Fun Fact: Males arrive first in spring flashing their colors while calling from high conspicuous branches to claim prime nesting real estate. Busy birds seen visiting orange slices, jelly treats and nectar feeders. 

Blackburnian Warbler (Setophaga fusca)   

  • Features: This tiny gray and black wood-warbler has a bright flaming orange triangular facial patch. White wing bars visible while foraging as adults dart about probing needles and leaves extracting insect protein for their fast-growing hatchlings concealed inside nests concealed by drooping conifer boughs overhead.  
  • Locations: Found during spring and fall migrations statewide. Breeds in Eastern Hemlock and mature mixed forests across Canada then down the spine of the Appalachian mountains into higher elevations. Winters along Andean slopes topping much of northwestern South America above the rainforest canopies.  
  • Fun Fact: Their fiery orange faces certainly help males stand out as they sing a fast high-pitched series of squeaky “se-se-se-se-se-it-it’s tea” notes to attract admiring females onto wooded breeding grounds after traveling some 4,000 miles north each spring certainly earning refreshments!

American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla)  

  • Features: Slim petite warbler splashed in orange spotting flashes when flickering after flying insects through canopy heights. Males jet black in front halves with orange flank patches while females dress in gray and yellow tones overall with peachy triangular tails. Both sexes display white belly patches when wings opened pinwheeling after irritated bugs. 
  • Locations: Found breeding in Ohio’s mature deciduous and mixed forests especially among beech stands. Winters in Caribbean lowlands down to Andean tropical slopes requiring almost 6,500 migration miles annually that teach navigation and endurance foraging skills to offspring if they survive. 
  • Fun Fact: Highly territorial males defend breeding grounds against intrusion chasing off interlopers in frenzied pursuits documented dive bomb speeds clock nearly 28 mph! Fortunately their tiny gape catches only mini insect threats, not politicians.

Threats and Conservation

Habitat loss poses serious threats to Ohio’s wetlands, thickets and mature forests required by diverse orange bird species. Vehicle collisions also take a major toll during migrations. Outdoor cats kill millions of fledglings and ground nesters annually. Climate disruption alters breeding ecology and food chains. Careful stewardship of essential habitats can help populations endure pressures through sustainable conservation policy. 

Citizen Science Opportunities

Ohio birdwatchers and researchers help population monitoring:

  • Uploading eBird checklists tracking regional bird trends for databases to inform management
  • Participating in breeding bird atlasing projects identifying nesting locations 
  • Building nest boxes providing natural cavity substitutes  
  • Banding birds gathering survivorship and demography insights
  • Conducting seasonal bird counts tallying migrants like the cerulean warbler
  • Educating others to promote environmental awareness  


Ohio sustains over 400 incredibly diverse bird species. As spring migrations commence, colorful migrants join year-round residents like the cardinal. Protecting essential wetland and forest ecosystems remains crucial for future generations to appreciate the return of beloved orange and red birds brightening backyards and landscapes statewide through thoughtful sustained conservation initiatives.