First oriole of the season – are they always Baltimores?

Today saw the arrival of the first Baltimore oriole (Icterus galbula), a beautiful male, from the north; photo above courtesy of friend Karel Straatman. The first orioles of this species arrive in Costa Rica in early September but they always seem to arrive somewhat later in our particular area, Turrialba.  There are 7 oriole species in Costa Rica, not counting 2 caciques and 3 oropendolas, but I have recorded only the Baltimore and the Black-cowled oriole (Icterus prosthemelas) here in San Antonio.  The Black-cowled is a resident Caribbean species that has been expanding to the Pacific in recent years.

Typical male Baltimore Oriole here in Costa Rica

Typical male Baltimore Oriole here in Costa Rica

According to the literature, the Ochard oriole (Icterus spurius) should be easy to find in migration here and I have promised myself to inspect all yellow orioles carefully this year to see if I can find a juvenile male or a female of that species among the many Baltimores.

Even more interesting is that I see many orioles here with a black bib that I have always thought were juvenile or female Baltimores.  I should have consulted Sibley’s Guide to Birds, which clearly shows that this is not possible, though in females the throat may be “blotched with black”, according to Stiles & Skutch.  So what species is the bird below?

Old file photo from my garden; I assumed this and others that are similar to be Baltimore orioles

Old file photo from my garden; I assumed this and others that are similar to be Baltimore orioles

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