Montserrat Oriole

Icterus oberi

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Steve Wilson

The Montserrat Oriole is a bright chested species of bird endemic to the island of Montserrat. Their diet consists of a wide range of insects but has been shown to feed on the nectar of banana flowers. Classified as vunerable the species numbers less than 500 individuals. However, due to its restricted range this is thought to be a stable and relatively healthy population for the island. Despite this, expanding agricultural land and plantations are causing the destruction of natural forests on the island and threatening the species.

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Distribution:

Found only on the small island of Montserrat, the species inhabits a restricted range on the island in the lesser Antillies. It is mostly found above sea level such as on the slopes of the active volcano in the North of the island and Soufriere hill range. An erruption in 1997 destroyed much of the habitat and caused significant breeding difficulties, but the population survived in other hilly areas.

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Habitat:

The Montserrat Oriole lives in natural forests and banana plantations that grow on the island. It has a preference for wet forrests and typically avoids very dry areas. This is likely due to their nest design that hang from the leaves of trees and can become harder to create in drier conditions.

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Diet:

Its diet is largely made up from insects, but can be seen to eating fruit and even plant nectar at different life stages. Due to its island biography breeding success is directly linked to insect population levels, which can become strained due to the remoteness of the island and difficulty for insects to immigrate.

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Threats:

Deforestation and habitat loss are the most significant threats to the Montserrat Oriole. The expansion of fruit plantations that replace natural forests along with natural disasters like volcanic erruptions have caused rapid declines. 

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Conservation status:

Classified as Vunerable to extinction the Montserrat Oriole has seen a rapid historical decline. Despite this the population of 500 individuals appears stable and even possibly starting to recover.