Family New World Blackbirds (Icteridae)

Least Concern

Streak-backed Oriole (Icterus pustulatus)


French: Oriole à dos rayé German: Piroltrupial Spanish: Turpial dorsilistado

Ps[arocolius]. pustulatus


, 1829,



DNA data indicate that present species is sister to I. bullockiorum. Races divided into three groups, “pustulatus group” (nominate race and microstictus) in N of range, single-taxon “graysonii group” on Tres Marías Is (off WC Mexico) and “sclateri group” (formosus, maximus, alticola, sclateri and pustuloides) in S of range. Mitochondrial DNA divergence within and between two mainland groups slight and plumage variation considerable; and insular graysonii, isolated for longer time and more distinctive in plumage, seems also too variable to register consistent and strong diagnostic characters for separation under Tobias criteria. In Mexico, birds from S Sinaloa S to S Nayarit sometimes separated as race yaegeri, those from SW Jalisco S to S Guerrero in dickermani, and birds of interior C & S Mexico in interior, but diagnostic characters of these uncertain. Other proposed races are flammulatus (described from Monte Redondo, in Honduras), subsumed into alticola, and connectens (interior El Salvador), which is intermediate between alticola and sclateri, and is merged with latter. Eight subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • I. p. graysonii Cassin, 1867 – Tres Marias Oriole – Tres Marías Is, off W coast of Mexico (Nayarit).
  • I. p. microstictus Griscom, 1934 – W Mexico from Sonora and W Chihuahua S to Jalisco.
  • I. p. pustulatus (Wagler, 1829) – Northern Streak-backed Oriole – S Mexico from Colima S to Puebla and N Oaxaca.
  • I. p. formosus Lawrence, 1872 – S Mexico (S Oaxaca and Chiapas) S to NW Guatemala.
  • I. p. maximus Griscom, 1930 – R Negro Valley, in NC Guatemala.
  • I. p. alticola W. deW. Miller & Griscom, 1925 – Guatemala and W Honduras.
  • I. p. sclateri Cassin, 1867 – Southern Streak-backed Oriole – Pacific coast from El Salvador S to NW Costa Rica.
  • I. p. pustuloides van Rossem, 1927 – Volcán San Miguel, in EC El Salvador.
  • Descriptive notes

    19–21 cm; male average 43·1 g, female average 34·6 g; sexes combined 31·8–41·6 g (microstictus), 29–39·4 g (... read more


    Song, by both sexes, mostly a melodic warbled series of whistles, somewhat like that of a vireo (... read more


    Occupies canopy and edges of deciduous forest, swamps with palo verde (Parkinsonia aculeata... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects and other arthropods, also nectar and fruits. Two stomachs from El Salvador contained only insects. Gleans insects from foliage,... read more


    Season May–Jul, later in N and at higher elevations. Probably largely monogamous; polygyny recorded. Solitary breeder. Nest a pensile... read more


    Apparently resident; in 1930s, race sclateri reported as making some local movements. Rare... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to common; locally rather abundant. Race microstictus, recorded very occasionally in SW USA, bred in Arizona in 1993 and... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fraga, R. (2020). Streak-backed Oriole (Icterus pustulatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 25 February 2020).