Recent elevation of critically endangered Bahama Orioles (Icterus northropi) to species status prompted us to evaluate their population status, habitat use, and breeding ecology. From surveys, we estimated that at least 141 to 254 individuals remain globally, with 90 to 162, 24 to 44, and 27 to 48 individuals remaining on North Andros Island, Mangrove Cay, and South Andros Island, The Bahamas, respectively. Orioles were observed nesting exclusively in anthropogenic habitat (residential and agricultural land), but home ranges also included nearby pine forest and coppice (dry broadleaf forest). Most nests (40 of 46, or 87%) were in nonnative coconut palm (Cocos nucifera), with native Sabal palmetto and Thrinax morrisii, and an introduced Brassaia actinophylla also used. Trees selected by orioles for nesting were significantly taller, less likely to have shrubs underneath, further from cover, and had more palm trees nearby than randomly selected palm trees. Three of eight nests with known contents were parasitized by Shiny Cowbirds (Molothrus bonariensis). Lethal yellowing disease recently devastated coconut palms and reduced the number of orioles on North Andros, but palms on Mangrove Cay and South Andros remain healthy. The juxtaposition of anthropogenic habitat to suitable native habitats may be more important than any single factor for Bahama Orioles, especially for breeding adults and fledged young. Conservation of coppice habitat, at high risk for agricultural and residential development, is crucial for survival of this critically endangered synanthropic species.
Price, M. R., Lee, V. A., and Hayes, W. K. (2011). Population status, habitat dependence, and reproductive ecology of Bahama orioles: a critically endangered synanthropic species. Journal of Field Ornithology 82(4):366-378.