Venezuelan Troupial (Icterus icterus)

Venezuelan Troupial


The Venezuelan troupial (Icterus icterus) is the national bird of Venezuela. It is found in Colombia, Venezuela, and the Caribbean islands of Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire, Trinidad, and Puerto Rico. Previously part of a superspecies simply named the troupial, it was recently split together with the orange-backed troupial and Campo troupial. Venezuelan troupials are fairly large in size, with a long tail and a bulky bill. It has a black head and upper breast. The feathers on the front of the neck and upper breast stick outward, making an uneven boundary between the black and the orange of the bird's lower breast and underside. The rest of the orange color is found on the upper and lower back, separated by the black shoulders. The wings are mostly black except for a white streak that runs the length of the wing when in a closed position. The eyes are yellow, and surrounding each one, there is a patch of bright, blue, naked skin. Former Miss International Edymar Martínez wore the image as a national costume in 2015 in Tokyo, Japan, representing as the national bird of Venezuela.

Distribution And Habitat

The Venezuelan Troupial is native to northern South America and islands off the north coast (Jaramillo and Burke 1999), and has been introduced to a number of Caribbean islands (Oberle 2018, Raffaele and others 1998) in association with the pet trade. It is established on Puerto Rico, where it is relatively common in the southwestern region and uncommon throughout the rest of the island (Raffaele and others 1998). No published troupial records are listed in Gemmill (2015). It usually inhabits dry deciduous forests, open wooded country, palm groves, suburban gardens (Oberle 2018), and arid scrublands (Raffaele and others 1998). The atlas fieldwork yielded a total of 166 records within 101 hexagons or 21 percent of the 479 total hexagons (see map). Of the 101 hexagons where this species was found, breeding met the atlas definitions of confirmed in 9 percent (9) of the hexagons, probable in 22 percent (22), and possible in 68 percent (69), while the species was observed in 1 percent (1) of the hexagons but without evidence of breeding (see map). Atlas fieldwork suggests that the species is expanding its distribution into higher elevations and eastward as also documented by recent records of occurrence in the Fajardo Christmas Bird Count. Venezuelan Troupial 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. 265Venezuelan Troupial/Turpial Venezolano

Venezuelan Troupial Distribution

Breeding Habits

Previously published reports indicate that the Venezuelan Troupial breeds primarily from March to June (Raffaele and others 1998). The nest is a deep cup- shaped structure that is usually built in a cactus or among thorny scrub (Raffaele and others 1998). Atlas results show that this species breeds throughout the year with the most breeding activity from March to June (see chart). Overall, the breeding activity peaks in May, and during this month it mostly takes place within the subtropical dry forest life zone (see chart). Overall, results (see table and map) show that this species breeds primarily in lower elevations mostly within the subtropical moist forest life zone (55 percent of the hexagons) and the subtropical dry forest life zone (38 percent of the hexagons) and rarely breeds at higher elevations within the subtropical wet forest life zones (7 percent of the hexagons).


The current global population trend of the Venezuelan Troupial has not been quantified or assessed, but the species is described as fairly common but patchily distributed (Stotz and others 1996). Due to the lack of evidence for any threats or declines, the overall population is suspected to be stable. This species is currently listed as a species of least concern by the IUCN (BirdLife International 2018). Locally, this species is not listed in any of the threatened categories of PRDNER and USFWS. In Puerto Rico, the Venezuelan Troupial has a protected habitat in land of about 9 percent or 210 km2 of the total area covered by the hexagons where evidence of breeding was found for this species (2372 km2).