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Black-cowled Oriole - BirdForum Opus

Subspecies praecox
Photo by the late Jim Wood
La Selva OTS, Costa Rica
Icterus prosthemelas


  • Relatively small, slender bill with decurved culmen
  • About half of the lower mandible shows lighter coloring


  • Black
  • Yellow shoulders mostly covered by scapulars
  • Yellow rump, undertail, abdomen, belly and lower breast

Female & Immature resemble several oriole species and are quite variable
Southern-most birds can be similar to males, but otherwise they have the crown and upper mantle yellowish olive with more or less black feathers intermixed.
Juveniles are pale versions of the females, even having paler wings.


Subspecies prosthemelas
Photo by peterday
Pico Bonito Lodge Honduras, March 2016

Southeast Mexico from Puebla, Veracruz, and northern Oaxaca to West Panama, mostly on the Atlantic slope.


The Black-cowled Oriole is divided into two subspecies, nominate and praecox. It was previously considered part of a more widespread species that included the birds now known as Greater Antillean Oriole. The combined species carried the names of Black-cowled Oriole which now is used for this part, and Icterus dominicensis which now is the scientific name for Greater Antillean Oriole.


There are two subspecies[1]:

  • I. p. prosthemelas:
  • I. p. praecox:


Moist lowland forests.



Song: A fairly quiet, rich, scratchy warble.
Call: A chuttering scold chuh-chuh...or cheh-cheh-cheh-chek, and varied nasal calls, cheh or chek, and a sharper beehk or bihk, etc., also a quiet tee-u.


  1. Clements, JF. 2011. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to August 2011. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/downloadable-clements-checklist

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GSearch checked for 2020 platform.