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Icterus icterus [ik' ter us ik' ter us]
This is a fairly large member of the oriole family, with a long, wedge-shaped tail and long, chisel-like bill. In addition to its size, the troupial also differs from other orioles in having bright yellow eyes surrounded by naked skin that is bright blue in color. The underparts and bottom of tail are orange, and there is also an orange neck collar. The head and upper chest are black. The wings are also black, with a small patch of orange feathers on the upper extreme of each shoulder and a white band running lengthwise. Juveniles are similar in color to adults except slightly duller orange and dull blue-grey skin around the eyes.
Distribution and Habitat
Troupials are native to northern and central South America, from Colombia into Argentina, and on the islands of Aruba, Curaçao and Isla Margarita. They have also been introduced to Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, and Bonaire. They prefer dry woodlands and semi-open savanna, but will also visit fruit plantations and gardens.
Breeding season typically runs from March through September, but may be year-round in some parts of the troupial's range. Breeding pairs typically stay together throughout the year, but it is not known if troupial pairs stay together from one season to the next. Unlike most other Passeriformes the troupial does not build its own nest, relying instead on nests stolen from other birds; they will also take over abandoned nests. The occupied nest may be modified by the addition of a new nest lining and/or widening of the entrance. A new nest is usually acquired for each breeding season.
Three eggs are typically laid, each being white or whitish pink with dark spots on the bottom. They are incubated for 15-16 days. Both parents take care of the young, which fledge in 22-23 days. Age to maturity and life span in the wild are not known.
Troupials tend to forage in pairs or as a family, rarely in flocks. Insects and fruit make up the vast majority of the diet.
Males do most of the singing, beginning in early morning and lasting throughout day. Females also sing, but usually only in response to a male. The call consists of loud, long, repetitive notes that are difficult to distinguish from other birds, even for experienced birders.
The troupial is the national bird of Venezuela.
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This page was last updated on June 15, 2017.