WatchList Species Account for Audubon's Oriole
(Icterus graduacauda)

Qualifies for the list as a Declining Yellow List Species


Audubon's Oriole
Photo: Mike Danzenbaker

Audubon’s species is a permanent resident in three disjunct patches, one extending from south Texas to Veracruz and the other two on the Pacific Slope of southwestern Mexico. Once common in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, it began to decline there in the 1920s with the destruction of thorn forest and riparian forest for agriculture, and by the 1990s had disappeared even from the two main National Wildlife Refuges there, Laguna Atascosa and Santa Ana, and is now restricted to the less fragmented inland areas of the valley.


Despite being relatively rare and secretive, it inhabits a broad range of habitats from thorn and riparian forests in Texas to humid evergreen to cloud forests in Mexico. It seems to do well in shade coffee plantations. Like other oriole species, it is somewhat of an edge species.


Populations have declined significantly not only in Texas but presumably in much of its Mexican range, as much of its preferred habitat has been converted to crops and pastureland. Additionally, brood parasitism by the Bronzed Cowbird, facilitated by habitat fragmentation, is a major problem for Audubon’s Oriole.


Protection and restoration of large blocks of quality habitat is probably the best hope for stopping declines and bringing about recovery of this species. Current efforts to protect and restore native vegetation in the Lower Rio Grande Valley are designed to benefit this and other birds of the thorn forest/riparian forest zone.