Bahama oriole population is larger than scientists thought

A Bahama oriole perches in a pine tree on Andros Island in the Bahamas. New research suggests this oriole’s population size is larger than previously believed. bertharris via iNaturalist

A population of critically endangered Bahama orioles is at least 10 times larger than scientists previously thought. Past research suggested there were fewer than 300 of the orioles on Andros Island in the Bahamas, the only place the birds are found. But recent efforts suggest there are between 1,300 and 2,800 of the birds. In a study published in Avian Conservation and Ecology, researchers counted the birds at 467 sites across 713 square kilometers on the island in the north of the Bahamas. They found that pine forests were the strongest predictor of the birds’ abundance. “The orioles seem to be able to nest in quite a few different habitats, which is really good for the orioles and important to know,” said Kevin Omland, professor of biological sciences at UMBC and senior author of the study, in a press release. “It gives us really useful information on what the nesting habitat is like, so we can tell the IUCN.” The researchers hope the new findings influence the IUCN to downlist the Bahama oriole (Icterus northropifrom critically endangered to endangered.  

Read the study in Avian Conservation and Ecology.