South American Yellow Orioles

The Yellow Oriole, Icterus nigrogularis, is a passerine bird in the family Icteridae. It should not be confused with the Australasian Yellow Oriole, Oriolus flavocinctus, which is an Old World oriole. In Trinidad and Tobago, it is also called the ‘Plantain’ and ‘Small Corn Bird’.

Distribution / Range:

Yellow Oriole breeds in northern South America in Colombia, Venezuela, Trinidad, the Guianas and parts of northern Brazil, (northern Roraima state, and eastern Amapá). The Yellow Oriole is a bird of open woodland, scrub and gardens.

Breeding / Nesting:

Its nest is a 40 cm long hanging basket, suspended from the end of a branch (please refer to photo at the bottom). The normal clutch is three pale green or grey eggs.


This is a 20-21 cm long, 38 g weight bird, with mainly yellow plumage, as its name suggests. The adult male has a black eye mask, thin black throat line, black tail and black wings with a white wing bar and some white feather edging.

The female is similar but slightly duller, and the juvenile bird has an olive-tinged yellow back, and lacks black on the face.

There are four subspecies of Yellow Oriole, of which three are restricted to islands. They differ from the widespread nominate race of the mainland in body and bill size, and minor plumage details.

South American Yellow Oriole, Icterus nigrogularis

Diet / Feeding

This species eats mainly large insects, but will also take nectar and some fruit.

Yellow Oriole, Icterus nigrogularis

Call / Vocalization

The song of the Yellow Oriole is a pleasant melodious fluting, with some buzzing. The calls include a cat-like whine, and chattering noises.


  • New World Blackbirds by Jaramillo and Burke, ISBN 0-7136-4333-1Birds of Venezuela by Hilty, ISBN 0-7136-6418-5ffrench, Richard (1991). A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago, 2nd edition, Comstock Publishing. ISBN 0-8014-9792-2.
Photo of author

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