Family New World Blackbirds (Icteridae)

Least Concern

Yellow-backed Oriole (Icterus chrysater)


French: Oriole noir et or German: Schwarzflügeltrupial Spanish: Turpial dorsidorado

Xanthornus chrysater


, 1844,



Hybridizes rarely with I. mesomelas. Proposed taxon hondae (based on two specimens from upper Magdalena Valley, in Colombia) appears undiagnosable; included in race giraudii. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • I. c. mayensis van Rossem, 1938 – N Yucatán Peninsula (SE Mexico).
  • I. c. chrysater (Lesson, 1844) – C & S Yucatán Peninsula (S to Belize) and S Mexico (inland S Veracruz, extreme E Oaxaca and Chiapas) S to N Nicaragua.
  • I. c. giraudii Cassin, 1848 – C Panama (on both coasts) to NW Venezuela (Miranda) and C & SW Colombia; recently recorded, status uncertain, in extreme NW Ecuador (Esmeraldas).
  • Descriptive notes

    c. 21–24 cm; male average 51·8 g, female average 48·7 g. Male nominate race is golden-yellow, with contrasting black forehead to throat and upper breast,... read more


    Song varies in length, in Panama 4–8 ascending and descending whistles, in Colombia 5–... read more


    Found in varied habitats, including native pine (Pinus) woodlands in Mexico, Belize and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, other arthropods, fruits and nectar. Insects in stomach contents from Panama included beetles (of families Cerambycidae and... read more


    Season Feb–May in Panama, and egg-laying also in Jan in Colombia. Probably monogamous. Solitary breeder. One nest in Panama was a... read more


    Appears resident; possibly some altitudinal movement by highland populations of nominate race.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Uncommon to locally fairly common. Tolerates, and even thrives in, modified habitats; apparently invaded Santa Marta region of N... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fraga, R. (2020). Yellow-backed Oriole (Icterus chrysater). 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 20 February 2020).