Bird of the Month - April 2007
montserrat oriole male

Montserrat Oriole (Icterus oberi)

Other local names: Various authors have reported that it has the local name of Tannia Bird. However, this is a mistake; in fact the Tannia Bird is the Forest Thrush Cichlerminia lherminieri whose far-carrying song was thought to indicate the correct time to harvest Tannia. Along with some other West Indian oriole species, it has been called Banana Bird for many years, but the name is not in common use now.

Monterrat Oriole female





The Montserrat Oriole has a curious relationship with the people of its island home. It is the national bird, and a ubiquitous symbol, seen all over the island in arts, crafts and advertising. It is a source of pride and great interest. Yet most Montserratians confess to never having seen one in the wild. Having evolved as Montserrat’s only endemic bird species some two million years ago, it has shown a remarkable longevity. Its ability to withstand the various assaults of volcanic eruptions and hurricanes (not to mention the odd ice age) is undoubtedly one of the reasons for its popularity: it symbolises the resilience that the people of Montserrat have demonstrated in abundance in recent years.

Interesting Facts


Conservation Measures

The Montserrat Oriole is in the fortunate position of being valued very highly by the people of Montserrat: in short, they will not let it disappear. Important steps to improved management of the Centre Hills are being made, with a Darwin Initiative project to create a Protected Area and a Management Plan. This will create the conditions for habitat protection and management that will benefit the species. Much information has already been gathered through the Oriole Emergency Conservation Programme, and the Montserrat Biodiversity Assessment, and more research is under way into the wider impacts of rats on the Centre Hills. A pig eradication programme is being developed. Despite the multitude of serious threats, and its Critically Endangered status, the prospects for the species are improving.

Where to Find More Information?  

Websites of partner organisations:

Scientific papers and reports:

Dalsgaard, B, Hilton, GM, Gray, GAL, Aymer, L, Boatswain, J, Daley, J, Fenton, C, Martin, J, Martin, L, Murrain, P, Arendt, WJ, Gibbons, DW & Olesen, JM (2007). Impacts of a volcanic eruption on the forest bird community of Montserrat, Lesser Antilles. Ibis. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-919x.2006.00631.x.

Hilton, G.M., P.W. Atkinson, G.A.L. Gray, W.J. Arendt, & D.W. Gibbons (2003). Rapid decline of the volcanically threatened Montserrat Oriole. Biological Conservation 111; 79-89.

Arendt, W. J., Gibbons, D. W., Gray, G. A. L., 1999. Status of the volcanically threatened Montserrat Oriole Icterus oberi and other forest birds in Montserrat, West Indies. Bird Conservation International 9, 351-372.

Hilton, GM, Gray, GAL, Fergus, E, Sanders, SM, Gibbons, DW, Bloxam, Q, Clubbe, C and Ivie, M (eds) (2005). Species Action Plan for the Montserrat Oriole Icterus oberi. Department of Agriculture, Montserrat. ISBN 1 90193071

Montserrat Oriole Bird of the Month contributed by Geoff Hilton

Bird of the Month - March 2007 - Grenada Dove

Bird of the Month - January 2007 - Bicknell's Thrush

Bird of the Month - December 2006 - Rose-throated Parrot

Bird of the Month - November 2006 - Purple-Throated Carib

Bird of the Month - October 2006 - Palmchat

Bird of the Month - September 2006 - Elfin-woods Warbler

Bird of the Month - August 2006 - Red-billed Streamertail

Bird of the Month - July 2006 - Cahow or Bermuda Petrel

Bird of the Month - June 2006 - West Indian Whistling-Duck


Range and Habitat Needs

Montserrat Oriole nest
Montserrat Centre Hills