Animals & Attractions

We are currently home to one male Montserrat oriole.

Where they can be found at Edinburgh Zoo

He can be found in our Brilliant Birds exhibit.

In the wild

The Montserrat oriole (Icterus oberi) is on the brink of extinction. They live the shadow of an active volcano on the Caribbean island of Montserrat in the Lesser Antilles, which has so far destroyed over half of their habitat.

They are a striking bird, the male is mostly black, with bright yellow on the lower back, shoulder, lower chest and stomach. The underparts of the tail are also yellow with a bit of brown. The female is duller with yellowish-green on the upperparts and bright yellow underparts. The differences between the male and female are known as sexual dimorphism. These birds can also be identified by their calls of loud whistles.

The Montserrat oriole feeds mainly on insects, such as crickets and grasshoppers, and occasionally on fruits.  It was originally found on the island’s three main forested hill ranges but volcanic activity between 1995 and 1997 destroyed two-thirds of its habitat. They are now thought to occupy an area of less than 13 square kilometres and prefer higher altitude forests.

As this bird only occurs in two areas separated by lava flows and abandoned farmland, they are extremely vulnerable to any additional threats. It is also at risk from further volcanic eruptions, and hurricanes, which are a common event in the Caribbean region.

So far attempts at breeding this species in captivity have proved successful, however there are currently no plans to supplement the wild population with birds that are captive bred. The remaining wild populations are legally protected with the majority of them given protection in an agreement between the government and landowners.

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