Streak-backed Oriole

streak-backed orioleOther Names:

Flame-headed Oriole, Scarlet-headed Oriole

Distribution:

Primarily found along the west coast of Mexico and Central America, but are also occasional visitors in the Southwestern United States
 

Subspecies, Ranges & Identification

The subspecies are divided amongst three groups, and the males occurring in the northern range are brightly colored with dull-plumaged females. As one moves southwards, the female plumages become gradually brighter until at the southern end of their distribution, the females look like the males.

Streak-backed Orioles measure about 7.87 inches (200 mm) in length (including the tail); the wingspan ranges from 3.54 - 4.65 inches (90 - 118 mm); and they weight between 2.47 - 3.00 oz (70 - 85 grams). Males are generally larger than females.

Scarlet-headed Oriole Group (northernmost group)

So named for the rich salmon to reddish feathers on the male's head (which gave this group also the names of Flame-headed or Scarlet-headed Orioles). Males have a much brighter plumage than females.

The northern subspecies are partially migratory.

  • Icterus pustulatus pustulatus (Wagler, 1829) - Nominate Form
    • Range: South from Colima south to northern Oaxaca and east from Guanajuarto to Merelos, Puebla, and West Vercuz
    • ID: Slightly larger in size than ssp. i.p. microstictus below.
  • Icterus pustulatus microstictus Griscom, 1934
    • Range: West Mexico from Sonora and western Chihuahua south to Jalisco. Some overwinter as far south as the state of Guerrero (southwestern Mexico).

The Tres Marías Oriole Group:

Plumage paler. Almost no streaking on backs. Females resemble males; except for having olive-colored tails.

  • Icterus pustulatus graysonii Cassin, 1867
    • Range: Restricted to the Tres Marías islands which lie along the western coast of Mexico (Nayarit)

Streak-backed Oriole Group (the southern group)

Larger in size; have entirely orange heads, and are almost completely monchromatic. Females can occasionally have some olive coloration.

  • Icterus pustulatus alticola (W. deW. Miller & Griscom, 1925)
    • Range: Occur in the dry areas of southern Guatemala and central western Honduras.
    • ID: The back is the least streaked of all subspecies and is sometimes completely black.
  • Icterus pustulatus maximus (Griscom, 1930)
    • Range: Found in the arid Rio Negro valley in north central Guatemala.
    • ID: Resemble ssp. I. p. aticola; but head is mostly yellow instead of orange.
  • Icterus pustulatus sclateri (Cassin, 1867)
    • Range: The most southerly population (may occasionally breed with Icterus pustulatus alticola) - occurs along the Pacific coast - from El Salvador south to northwestern Costa Rica.
    • ID: Often larger than other subspecies. Head bright yellow. Back broadly streaked.
  • Icterus pustulatus formosus (Lawrence, 1872)
    • Range: Found in the extreme south of Mexico and northwestern Guatemala.
    • ID: The head is a bright yellow-orange color.
  • Icterus pustulatus pustuloides (van Rossem, 1927)
    • Range: Endemic to the vicinity of Volcán San Miguel, in southern east central El Salvador.
    • ID: Resemble ssp. I. p. alticola, except the head is reddish-orange in color.

Avianweb Species Page

Species image
Streak-backed Oriole

Streak-backed Oriole

Bill Shape
all-purpose
dagger
Eats
jelly
orange-halves
raisins
suet
Regions
arizona
california
colorado
mexico
new mexico
oregon
texas
wisconsin
Tail Shape
rounded-tail
Wing Shape
rounded-wings
Habitat
Forests
Urban
Grasslands
Color
orange
black
Body Shape
perching
Size
small
Order
perching birds or songbirds - passeriformes
blackbirds (new world) and orioles - icteridae
Conservation Status
Least Concern