Icterus jamacaiiCampo troupial

Geographic Range

Icterus jamacaii (campo troupials or campo orioles) is a Neotropical species found exclusively in northeastern Brazil. This range extends south to include the regions of Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo. (Jaramillo and Burke, 1999; Omland, et al., 1999; Ridgely and Tudor, 1989)


Icterus jamacaii lives at low elevations and occupies dry habitats such as the Caatinga zone, a region in Northern Brazil composed of shrublands and tall cacti. This species can also be found on the edges of forests, dry savanna, woodlands with deciduous trees, and in other open areas within the Caatinga zone. Icterus jamacaii may be found at elevations of up to 500 m above sea level. (Jaramillo and Burke, 1999; Ridgely and Tudor, 1989)

  • Range elevation
    500 (high) m
    1640.42 (high) ft

Physical Description

Icterus jamacaii adults share many similarities with other troupial species, however, it also has distinct features that make it morphologically different such as the size of its ocular patch. Campo troupials significantly lack the ocular patch that is common to the other two troupial species. This species measures 23 to 23.5 cm in length and features a wingspan of 105 to 107 mm.

Campo troupials are beautiful birds with striking orange, black, and white plumage. They feature a black hood, breast, and wings. The black wings are patterned with white and orange feathers. The feathers of the upper and lower back are orange, as are those of the rump and upper tail. The upper parts, the lower back, and the area from the lower breast to the undertail are orange as well. Campo troupials' tails are solid black, unlike the black and white patterned tails of Venezuelan troupials. Feathers of the breast and throat are pointed, similar to orange-backed troupials. The legs and feet are grey and the eyes are orange-yellow.

Female campo troupials are very similar to males both in size and color. A 2008 study conducted by Hoffman, Cronin, and Omland showed that there is very little difference in the color saturation of male and female breast feathers. The same study also verified that there is little to no difference between the throat feathers of the two sexes. Like most other tropical species, campo troupials are observed to be sexually monomorphic.

Juvenile I. jamacaii are not very different from adults in color. The black in the adult is replaced by a dull brownish-black color, and the under-parts are a dull orange-yellow color rather than bright orange. They also have darker eyes than adults.

Immature I. jamacaii are similar to adults with the exception of brown secondaries and primaries. Some immature I. jamacaii may still have a few brown tail feathers, as opposed to adults' solid black tails. The brown tail feathers are remnants from juvenile plumage. (Hofmann, et al., 2008; Jaramillo and Burke, 1999; Price, et al., 2007; Ridgely and Tudor, 1989; Sclater, 1886; Tudor and Ridgely, 2009)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range length
    23 to 23.5 cm
    9.06 to 9.25 in
  • Range wingspan
    105 to 107 mm
    4.13 to 4.21 in


All members of the genus are thought to be socially monogamous. There is speculation that tropical species including I. jamacaii may have lifelong pair bonds. (Price, et al., 2009)

The breeding season for I. jamacaii occurs in February. Currently, there is no other information about reproduction in this species.

It is known that the closely related I. icterus produces 3 eggs per clutch. It takes 21 to 23 days for its young to fledge. Once the young leave the nest they travel with their families for an unknown period of time. (Jaramillo and Burke, 1999)

  • Breeding interval
    Icterus jamacaii breeds once per year.
  • Breeding season
    The breeding season for Icterus jamacaii occurs in February.

There is not a significant amount of information about the extent of parental investment in I. jamacaii. However, it is known that before breeding this species is either found alone, or with its mate, but once it breeds it is found in a group with its family. This particular characteristic of I. jamacaii may be an indication of the extent of its parental investment.

Parental investment in this species also includes providing yolk to the egg and providing a nest for the offspring. Icterus jamacaii is known to steal nests which are used as shelter for its offspring. (Jaramillo and Burke, 1999)

  • Parental Investment
  • male parental care
  • female parental care
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
    • protecting
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
    • protecting
  • pre-independence
    • provisioning
    • protecting


There is no record of the lifespan of campo troupials.


There are both male and female songs in this species, and the breeding season is characterized by a great deal of singing. While singing this bird also exhibits a physical display that is made up of an extended neck, raised tail, downward pointed bill, and display of neck feathers. Similar to some other birds, this species makes notable swishing sounds as it flies.

Similar to other troupials, I. jamacaii is a “nest pirate.” It settles into abandoned nests or takes over nests that belong to other birds. Campo troupials prefer domed stick nests built by firewood-gatherers (Anumbius annumbi) and caatinga cacholotes (Pseudoseisura cristata). It has also been found to use nests built by great kiskadees (Pitangus sulphuratus) and rufous horneros (Furnarius rufus). (Jaramillo and Burke, 1999)

Home Range

There is no available information on the home range of I. jamacaii; however, it is known that this species does not seasonally migrate. (Jaramillo and Burke, 1999)

Communication and Perception

Like other species of birds, I. jamacaii communicates through sounds, specifically songs. Its songs are similar to that of other Icterus species, and is composed of simple whistled phrases. However, compared to the songs of I. croconotus, the songs of I. jamacaii are longer. In addition to their characteristic songs, caged members of this species can be taught different tunes. It is common practice in Brazil for owners of this bird to teach it the Brazilian National Anthem!

Its calls sound like: "prru". (Jaramillo and Burke, 1999; Perlo, 2009)

Food Habits

There is no detailed information about the food habits of campo troupials in the literature, however, most Icterus include fruit, nectar, and arthropods in their diets. (Jaramillo and Burke, 1999)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • fruit
  • nectar


There are no identified predators of I. jamacaii.

Ecosystem Roles

Campo troupials are nest pirates. They not only move into abandoned nests but also take over occupied nests. Orange-backed troupials do the same, and that species may even kill the occupants of the nests during the invasion. Regardless, campo troupials likely have a negative effect on populations of other bird species such as: firewood-gatherers, rufous cacholotes, great kiskadees, and rufous horneros.

Even though they are nest pirates, campo troupials are occasionally host to nest parasites such as shiny cowbirds.

As the diet of campo troupials includes fruits, these birds may disperse seeds as they forage. (Jaramillo and Burke, 1999)

Species Used as Host
Commensal/Parasitic Species

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Icterus jamacaii is frequently caught and traded in Brazil. It is often kept as a pet caged bird in local homes. (Alves, et al., 2009)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There is no information suggesting that this species has a negative impact on humans.

Conservation Status

Currently the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) lists I. jamacaii as least concern given it's wide geographic range and stable population size. However, I. jamacaii is prevalently hunted in the Caatinga zone in Brazil. There have been calls to place stricter regulations on the hunting or capturing of I. jamacaii and other birds living in the region. (Alves, et al., 2009)

Other Comments

The information present in the literature about the species I. jamacaii is limited, in part because it has not yet been studied much as a separate species. The majority of the literature treats it as a subspecies within I. icterus or simply neglects it. As a result I. jamacaii presents an interesting case study in where taxonomists draw species boundaries.

The best available source that not only recognizes I. jamacaii as a species but also has an extensive account on the related species is Jaramillo and Burke’s 1999 “New World Blackbirds: The Icterids.” Other sources are contradictory when it comes to the acknowledgment of I. jamacaii as a species. There is a recognizable pattern in the literature that shows how this species and its two other closely related species, I. icterus and I. croconotus, have been categorized throughout history.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s I. icterus, I. jamacaii, and I. croconotus were originally described as three separate species. Sclater (1886) recognizes I. jamacaii and I. croconotus as distinct species. Bond (1953) claims that I. jamacaii and I. croconotus are two entirely different species. Ridgway (1902) treats the Troupial Complex as three separate species as well.

Later these three species were all lumped into a single species, I. icterus. In other words they were classified as I. i. croconotus, I. i. jamacaii, and I. i. icterus! Ridgely and Tudor (1989) claim that these birds form three main groups and that although I. icterus and I. jamacaii are geographically separate they should be considered as one species. Sibley and Monroe (1990) name I. i. icterus and I. i. jamacaii, and do not separate I. croconotus. Three years later, Monroe and Sibley (1993) list I. jamacaii and I. croconotus as subspecies within I. icterus. Hilty (2003) also treats I. jamacaii and I. croconotus as subspecies within I. icterus.

Since the late 1990s the three species have generally been separated. Many other oriole species that had been lumped during the 1960s to 1980s are also now considered separate species (e.g. Baltimore Oriole, Icterus galbula, and Bullock’s Oriole, Icterus abeillei).

Although there has been decades of inconsistency in the classification of these three species, there is an emerging consensus among the most recent sources that I. icterus, I. croconotus, and I. jamacaii are three separate species. (Bond, 1953; Clements, 2007; Hilty, 2003; Jaramillo and Burke, 1999; Monroe and Sibley, 1993; Perlo, 2009; Ridgely and Tudor, 1989; Ridgway, 1902; Sclater, 1886; Sibley and Monroe, 1990; Tudor and Ridgely, 2009)


Leila Bahmani Kazerooni (author), University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Kevin Omland (editor), University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Rachelle Sterling (editor), Special Projects.



living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

to jointly display, usually with sounds in a highly coordinated fashion, at the same time as one other individual of the same species, often a mate


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

male parental care

parental care is carried out by males


imitates a communication signal or appearance of another kind of organism


Having one mate at a time.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

pet trade

the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.


A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.


uses sight to communicate


Alves, R., E. Nogueira, A. Helder, B. Sharon. 2009. Bird-keeping in the Caatinga, Northeast Brazil. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedecine, 38/1: 154. Accessed April 16, 2011 at http://www.springerlink.com/content/g724127wkw135654/fulltext.pdf.

Bond, J. 1953. Notes on Peruvian Icteridae, Vireonidae and Parulidae. Academy of Natural Sciences Philadelphia Notulae Naturae, 255: 5.

Clements, J. 2007. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.

Hilty, S. 2003. Birds of Venezuela. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Hofmann, C., T. Cronin, K. Omland. 2008. Evolution of sexual dichromatism. 1. Convergent losses of elaborate female coloration in New World orioles (Icterus species). The Auk, 125: 783-785.

Jaramillo, A., P. Burke. 1999. New World Blackbirds The Icterids. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Monroe, B., C. Sibley. 1993. A World Checklist of Birds. United States: Yale University Press.

Omland, K., S. Lanyon, S. Fritz. 1999. A Molecular Phylogeny of the New World Orieles (Icterus): The Importance of Dense Taxon Sampling. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 12/2: 235.

Perlo, B. 2009. A Field Guide To The Birds of Brazil. New York: Oxford University Press.

Price, J., N. Friedman, K. Omland. 2007. Song and plumage evolution in the New World orioles (Icterus) show similar lability and convergence in patterns. Evolution: Internation Journal of Organic Evolution, 61/4: 850.

Price, J., S. Lanyon, K. Omland. 2009. Losses of female song with changes from tropical. Proceedings of The Royal Society Biology, 276: 1971.

Ridgely, R., G. Tudor. 1989. The Birds of South America. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press.

Ridgway, R. 1902. The birds of North and middle America: A descriptive catalogue of the higher groups, genera, species and subspecies of birds known to occur in North America, from the Arctic lands to the Isthmus of Panama, the West Indies and other islands of the Caribbean Sea, and the Galapagos Archipelago. Bulletin of the United States National Museum, 50: 257.

Sclater, P. 1886. Catalogue of The Passeriformes or Perching Birds in The Collection of The British Museum. London: Adamant Media Corporation.

Sibley, C., B. Monroe. 1990. Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World. United States of America: Yale University.

Tudor, G., R. Ridgely. 2009. Field Guide To The Songbirds of South America The Passerines. United States: Universtiy of Texas Press.