Puerto Rican Spindalis (Spindalis portoricensis)

Puerto Rican Spindalis


The Puerto Rican spindalis (Spindalis portoricensis) is a bird endemic to the island of Puerto Rico, where it is commonly known as reina mora. The species is widely distributed throughout the island and is an important part of the Puerto Rican ecosystem because of its help in seed dispersal and plant reproduction. The Puerto Rican spindalis is the unofficial national bird[N 1] of Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rican spindalis exhibits sexual dimorphism with males being brightly colored and females being dully colored. Males are green colored above with an orange neck and chest. They have a black head with two white stripes running across it, with one above and one below the eyes. The tail and wings are gray to black with small white stripes at the tips. In contrast, the female is a dull olive-green color with slightly noticeable white stripes. Sexual dimorphism is also noticeable in weight and size. Females are slightly heavier but smaller in length than males. The male's weight ranges from 22.5 to 37.0 grams with an average of 30.8 grams while the female's ranges from 28.0 to 41.1 grams with an average of 33.5 grams. The length of the male's wings ranges from 82 to 88.5 mm with an average of 85.2 mm while the female's range from 80 to 85.5 mm with an average of 82.6 mm. The length of the male's tail ranges from 59 to 68 mm with an average of 63.3 mm while the female's range from 56 to 65.5 mm with an average of 60.6 mm.

Distribution And Habitat

The Puerto Rican Spindalis is an endemic species restricted to the main island of Puerto Rico where it is widespread (Oberle 2018, Raffaele 1989a). This species inhabits varied habitats, from forests to gardens and plantations (Biaggi 1997, Oberle 2018, Raffaele 1989a). The atlas fieldwork yielded a total of 627 records within 330 hexagons or 69 percent of the 479 total hexagons (see map). Of the 330 hexagons where this species was found, breeding met the atlas definition of confirmed in 8 percent (25) of the hexagons, probable in 42 percent (138), and possible in 50 percent (166), while the species was observed in an additional hexagon (<1 percent) but without evidence of breeding. In addition, there were no records of the Puerto Rican Spindalis in Puerto Ricos outer islands (see map). Puerto Rican Spindalis distribution. The map shows the highest breeding code by hexagon and overlaying the ecological life zones in Puerto Rico. Note: percentages may not total 100 due to rounding.

Puerto Rican Spindalis Distribution

Breeding Habits

The Puerto Rican Spindalis is an abundant bird that breeds from January to June, according to previously published reports (Biaggi 1997). The nest consists of a loose cup of vegetation and is usually built low in a bush, tree, or palm (Raffaele and others 1998). Atlas results indicate an increase in breeding 261Puerto Rican Spindalis/Reinamoraactivity from March to June, and most breeding occurs in the subtropical moist forest life zone (see chart). Results show that this species breeds in all subtropical forest life zones (see table and map). It was recorded in the subtropical moist forest life zone (61 percent of the hexagons), subtropical wet and lower montane wet forest life zones (22 percent of the hexagons), and subtropical dry forest life zone (16 percent of the hexagons). There was one observation (classified as probable breeding) located in the subtropical rain and lower montane rain forest life zones.


The Puerto Rican Spindalis population is believed to be stable, and it is listed as a species of least concern by the IUCN (BirdLife International 2016). In 2005, this species was locally listed as Data Deficient, but a 2015 assessment classified it as Low Risk (PRDNER 2015). Locally, this species is not listed in any of the threatened categories of PRDNER and USFWS. In Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rican Spindalis has a protected habitat in land of 11 percent or 898 km2 of the total area covered by the hexagons where evidence of breeding was found for this species (7869 km2).