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Icterus icterus

Description: Troupials are large birds with long, wedge-shaped tails and chisel-like bills. Adult plumage is mainly black and orange, with the exception of the lower mandible, which is gray. Black coloring starts at the top of the head, which is entirely black, and extends down the neck and upper breast area. The underside, from the belly to under the tail, is bright orange. The back, shoulders and wings are black, except for some orange on the rump, lower back and upper shoulder area. Surrounding each yellow eye is a patch of bare blue skin. Juvenile plumage is similar to the adult, except it is duller in color.

Size: Adults can grow to be around nine inches (22.5 cm) in length.

Behavior: Adults have territories, which they defend very aggressively against intruders. Troupials are not very social birds, and they are normally found in pairs or very small family groups. Their favorite place to nest and congregate is on giant cacti.

Diet: Diet consists of fruit, insects and the eggs and young of other birds.

Communication: They are sometimes known as “Bugle Birds” for their piercing, melodious voices. The Troupial’s sweet song has made it very popular as a cage bird. Their most common call is a repeated ”taaw-cheeeer”. Vocal characteristics include the existence of female song, pair duetting and the ability to mimic other birds.

Reproduction: Nesting season varies by location, lasting only for a couple months in some areas or occurring year round in others. Troupials do not build their own nests, but rather pirate the nests of other birds, generally from the common thornbird or great kiskadee. Stolen nests are used for breeding and each bird in a couple will use separate nests for sleeping. Only one nest is used to lay eggs and raise the young. A typical clutch will consist of three spotted whitish-pink eggs. The eggs are incubated for 15-16 days. The young are cared for by both parents in the nest for 21-23 days. At this point they are able to leave the nest and pirate one of their own.

Habitat/range: Preferring dry edge habitats over ones with heavy rainfall, Troupials are generally found in areas of semi-open savannah, dry woodlands, llanos, arid scrub and gallery forests. They are also visit fruit plantations and gardens with fruit and flowers. Troupials are found in various parts of Colombia and Venezuela.
It is the national bird of Venezuela.

Status: Listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.