Family New World Blackbirds (Icteridae)

Least Concern

Variable Oriole (Icterus pyrrhopterus)


French: Oriole variable German: Feuerflügeltrupial Spanish: Turpial variable

Agelaius pyrrhopterus


, 1819,



Often treated as conspecific with I. chrysocephalus and/or I. cayanensis (both of which see). Races intergrade; valenciobuenoi is a variable form, connecting tibialis and nominate race, and has been subsumed into one or the other of these (a few individuals with characters of valenciobuenoi can be found in nominate populations, e.g. in NE Argentina), while periporphyrus is sometimes also treated as synonym of nominate; in contrast, tibialis might prove specifically distinct. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • I. p. tibialis Swainson, 1838 – Yellow-shouldered Oriole – E Brazil from Maranhão and Ceará S to Rio de Janeiro.
  • I. p. periporphyrus (Bonaparte, 1850) – EC Bolivia (Beni, Cochabamba and N Santa Cruz) and adjacent SC Brazil (Mato Grosso).
  • I. p. valenciobuenoi H. von Ihering, 1902 – SE Brazil (Goiás, Minas Gerais, São Paulo, Paraná and Santa Catarina).
  • I. p. pyrrhopterus (Vieillot, 1819) – Chestnut-shouldered Oriole – SE Bolivia (S Santa Cruz S to Tarija), Paraguay, S Brazil (Mato Grosso do Sul and Rio Grande do Sul), N & NE Argentina (S to San Juan, San Luis and Buenos Aires) and Uruguay.
  • Descriptive notes

    c. 20 cm; male average 33·3 g, female average 30·4 g (nominate, Argen­tina). A small, long-tailed oriole with slender straight bill. Nominate race is... read more


    Song rather fast, variable, pleasant, but not too musical; sings rather infrequently in Argentina.... read more


    Forest edges and clearings, palm savannas, palm groves, sometimes in clumps of flowering Thalia... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, other arthropods, nectar and fruits. Insects in stomach contents include stink-bugs (Pentatomidae), cockroaches (Blattodea),... read more


    Season Oct–Jan in Argentina. Probably monogamous. Solitary breeder. Nest a shallow basket woven from fine plant fibres, often palm... read more


    Apparently resident. Short local movements to visit flowering or fruiting trees.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common. Has extensive range in which numbers increasing. Found in modified environments, even in gardens and towns, and is expanding its... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fraga, R. & de Juana, E. (2020). Variable Oriole (Icterus pyrrhopterus). 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 23 January 2020).