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Bahama Oriole Icterus northropi
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This newly-split species is listed as Critically Endangered because its extremely small population, which is believed to form a single subpopulation, and is suspected to be in decline owing to the effects of introduced species, as well as infrastructural and agricultural development.

Taxonomic source(s)
AOU. 1998. Check-list of North American birds. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Taxonomic note
Icterus dominicensis (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into I. dominicensis and I. prosthemelas following AOU (2000), and I. dominicensis, I. northropi, I. melanopsis and I. portoricensis following AOU (2010).

Icterus dominicensis BirdLife International (2004, 2008), Icterus dominicensis Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993), Icterus dominicensis Stotz et al. (1996)

20-22 cm. A slender-billed oriole with an obviously decurved culmen. Head and body black with yellow underparts from the pectoral line back to the undertail coverts. There is a brown or greenish wash to the back. On the upperparts the lower back, rump and uppertail coverts are yellow. The wing linings are also yellow. The greater coverts, remiges and rectrices have white tips and fringing. Females are similar to males but have a duller, paler back. Juveniles and immatures have olive to olive-grey upperparts and greenish-yellow underparts and rump. They acquire more black plumage with age, first on the lores and throat. Bill black with bluish-grey basal half to lower mandible; legs grey-blue; iris dark brown. Similar spp Unlikely to be confused with any other species in its range. Voice Calls include a hard keek or check.

Distribution and population
Icterus northropi was recently split from I. dominicensis following studies into the morphology, life history, vocalisations and genetics of the dominicensis group (Price and Hayes 2009, Sturge et al. 2009). It is endemic to the Andros group in The Bahamas, including North Andros, South Andros and Mangrove Cay. It formerly occurred on Abaco, but disappeared for unknown reasons in the early 1990s (M. Price in litt. 2010, 2011). In 1997, a "liberal" estimate was put forward of 150-300 individuals on North Andros and South Andros (Price and Hayes 2009); however, more recent surveys recorded a total of 81 individuals on North Andros, 22 on Mangrove Cay, and 24 on South Andros. Assuming 50-100% detectability, total numbers are estimated at 127-254 (M. Price in litt. 2010, 2011). These surveys did not extend to the interior (pine forest) and western side (mangrove) of Andros; however, the species is thought to be rare in these habitats (Currie et al. 2005, M. Price in litt. 2010, 2011, W. K. Hayes in litt. 2011). Habitat on Wood Cay may be suitable, but other cays within and around Andros are thought likely to be too small to support populations. Initial results of a genetic study suggest that the species has one subpopulation, as there is some movement between islands (M. Price in litt. 2010, 2011).

Population justification
The global population has been estimated at c.140-260 individuals based on recent breeding season surveys. This is roughly equivalent to 93-180 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The species's population is suspected to be in decline owing primarily to the impacts of the Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis on breeding success and lethal yellowing on the availability of suitable coconut palm habitat.

This species inhabits open forests and edge habitats and relies heavily on palms (Jaramillo and Burke 1999). Indeed, the planting of coconut palms in residential areas has allowed the species to spread into human settlements. It also relies on coppiced broadleaved woodland, including areas of mixed pine and coppice (Currie et al. 2005, M. Price in litt. 2010, 2011). It feeds primarily on insects and fruit (Jaramillo and Burke 1999). The species nests in palms (Price et al. 2011), in May and June (Jaramillo and Burke 1999).

Perhaps the two most significant threats are brood parasitism by the Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis, which arrived in the 1990s, and lethal yellowing, which has destroyed entire communities of coconut palm within the last five years, such as that of Staniard Creek, which has suffered 97% mortality. In 2009, the species was completely absent from this settlement, where they were formerly common. Lethal yellowing appears not to have reached South Andros or Mangrove Cay, as they had very healthy palm populations in 2009, and there appears to be a much higher density of orioles on these islands than on North Andros (M. Price in litt. 2010, 2011). The cowbird population does not appear to be increasing (W. K. Hayes in litt. 2011). On South Andros, the coppiced habitats that the species favours are threatened by major road and agricultural developments (M. Price in litt. 2010, 2011, W. K. Hayes in litt. 2011). Additional potential threats include forest fires, logging, introduced diseases, invasive species (in particular rats and feral cats), and the potential effects of climate change in terms of sea-level rise and changes in habitat distributions (Price and Hayes 2009).

Conservation Actions Underway
The species is the subject of ongoing research (M. Price in litt. 2010, 2011).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Study habitat use by the species throughout the year and in relation to its life history. Carry out further survey work to confirm the population size. Monitor population trends. Initiate a citizen science programme focussed on the species and involving local schools. Protect coppiced habitats and encourage the practice to increase the extent of such habitats. Plant disease-resistant cultivars of coconut palm on North Andros to replace those already lost (M. Price in litt. 2010, 2011). Examine the feasibility of translocating the species to Abaco, from which it has been extirpated (Price et al. 2011) and establish a captive breeding programme to support future reintroductions/population supplementations.

AOU. 2000. Forty-second supplement to the American Ornithologists's Union Check-list of North American Birds. The Auk 117: 847-858.

Collar, N. J.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2013. Conservation breeding and avian diversity: chances and challenges. International Zoo Yearbook.

Currie, D.; Wunderle, J. M., Jr; Ewert, D. N.; Anderson, M. R.; Davis, A.; Turner, J. 2005. Habitat distribution of birds wintering in Central Andros, the Bahamas: implications for management. Caribbean Journal of Science 41: 75-87.

Currie, D.; Wunderle, J.M.; Ewert, D.N.; Davis, A.; McKenzie, Z. 2005. Winter avian distribution and relative abundance in six terrestrial habitats on Southern Eleuthera, The Bahamas. Caribbean Journal of Science 41: 88-100.

Jaramillo, A.; Burke, P. 1999. New World blackbirds: the icterids. Christopher Helm, London.

Price, M. R.; Hayes, W. K. 2009. Conservation taxonomy of the Greater Antillean Oriole (Icterus dominicensis): diagnosable plumage variation among allopatric populations supports species status. Journal of Caribbean Ornithology 22: 19-25.

Price, M. R.; Lee, V. A.; Hayes, W. K. 2011. Population status, habitat dependence, and reproductive ecology of Bahama Orioles: a Critically Endangered synanthropic species. Journal of Field Ornithology 82(4): 366-378.

Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1993. A supplement to 'Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world'. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Sturge, R. J.; Jacobsen, F.; Rosensteel, B. B.; Neale, R. J.; Omland, K. E. 2009. Colonization of South America from Caribbean Islands confirmed by molecular phylogeny with increased taxon sampling. Condor 111(3): 757-579.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Sharpe, C J, Symes, A., Taylor, J., Khwaja, N.

Hayes, W., Price, M.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Icterus northropi. Downloaded from on 29/12/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 29/12/2014.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Critically Endangered
Family Icteridae (New World blackbirds)
Species name author Allen, 1890
Population size 93-180 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 5,300 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species