Montserrat is a popular destination for cruise ships and a great place for birders to check off another endemic bird. The Montserrat Oriole can only be found on Montserrat so if you are planning a vacation, this article will tell you where you may be able to spot one and what to look for.
Montserrat is a small island in the Leeward Islands, part of the Lesser Antilles, in the West Indies. Montserrat is home to a large volcano and an exclusion zone covers most of the south part of the island. The volcano last went off in 2010 which caused widespread destruction.
The Montserrat Oriole can be found in three areas including the forests east of Galways Soufriere, the slopes of the Chances Peak mountain and the Centre Hills.
Montserrat has a forest reserve called Centre Hills forming an Important Bird Area. This covers most of the country’s forest in the northern half of the island. Montserrat has tropical dry forests at lower elevations and tropical evergreen forests at higher elevations.
The Montserrat Oriole is a black and yellow bird in the Icterid family. They are medium-sized birds, larger than vireos and tanagers and males and females are different colours. Females are duller than males with a yellow-green upper and dull yellow on the lower feathers.
Males have a black head, back, and chest, with a brighter yellow belly and rump than females. Both males and females have a sharp bill which they use to catch insects.
Following the volcano in 2010, it was thought that the Montserrat Oriole may not be around in 2020 but this is not the case and the population has now stabilised. However, they are still rare with a population of between 300-500 birds.
Due to the volcano, Durrell.org collected eight orioles from the wild and started to breed them at Jersey Zoo. There are now around 56 birds in captivity and they can be seen at London Zoo, Jersey Zoo, Chester Zoo, Birdworld, and the National Museum of Scotland.
However, if you want to see one in the wild then it may be worth a trip to Montserrat. It is a beautiful island and I am sure you won’t regret it.