St Lucia Oriole Icterus laudabilis


Justification of Red List Category
This species is restricted to a single island. Its population is small and facing a number of threats, including brood parasitism and habitat degradation. Observations are becoming increasingly scarce. The species is therefore listed as Endangered.

Population justification
The species is described as scarce, but still widespread (Keith 1997). The population is estimated to number more than 1,000 mature individuals, though possibly not many more (H. Temple in litt. 2005). It is placed in the band 1,000-2,499 mature individuals, equating to 1,500-3,749 individuals in total, rounded here to 1,500-4,000 individuals.

Trend justification
The species has reportedly become less numerous and more local since 1935 (Keith 1997, Raffaele et al. 1998). During a comprehensive survey in 2009, the species had only been recorded in low numbers at few sites (Toussaint 2009). In recent years, evidence for declines has become prevalent as the species appears to be increasingly difficult to record (Aley 2018, J. Mortensen and A. Toussaint per G. Young in litt. 2020). From the declining number of observational records, it is tentatively inferred that the population is in continuing decline. The rate of decline has not been quantified. Given its small population size and the fact that the species is still observed, it is likely that declines are slow to moderate, rather than steep.

Distribution and population

Icterus laudabilis is endemic to Saint Lucia in the Lesser Antilles (Keith 1997). The species is described as scarce but widespread; it is thought to be relatively evenly distributed across the island (Keith 1997, Toussaint et al. 2009, eBird 2020).


It inhabits secondary and primary forest, coastal vegetation, dry scrubland and agricultural areas near settlements, but appears to prefer moist highland forest up to 700 m (Keith 1997, Raffaele et al. 1998, Fraga 2020).


Since 1935, the species has become less numerous and more local. It has been hypothesised that declines are driven by a combination of pesticide spraying, habitat loss and brood parasitism by Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis (Keith 1997, Raffaele et al. 1998, Daltry et al. 2009, Toussaint et al. 2009). Habitat loss is ongoing owing to conversion for tourism developments such as hotels and golf courses (P. Haynes in litt. 2016). Feral pigs (Sus scrofa) are destructive to the Heliconia and Musa species, which are used as nesting habitat (Toussaint et al. 2009). Feral pig numbers and range on Saint Lucia are perceived to have increased markedly in recent years (M. Morton in litt. 2016). Rates of brood parasitism by Shiny Cowbird may be particularly high; locally up to 75% of broods may be partially or exclusively made up of Shiny Cowbirds, but it is not known what effect (if any) this is having on population size (H. Temple in litt. 2005).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
A significant part of the species’s range is in the Government Forest Reserve, a protected area. 

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey the population and map its distribution. Study the effect of brood parasitism on the population. Study the relative effects of other threats on the population. Control/manage invasive alien species, with emphasis on dry forest ecosystems. Protect significant areas of native forest at lower altitudes.


Text account compilers
Wheatley, H., Hermes, C.

Capper, D., Haynes, P., Isherwood, I., Mahood, S., Mortensen, J., Morton, M., O'Brien, A., Sharpe, C.J., Temple, H., Toussaint, A. & Young, G.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Icterus laudabilis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 06/03/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 06/03/2021.