A widely accepted paradigm is that sedentary Neotropical bird species are a reservoir that gives rise to temperate-tropical migratory species. Recently, an alternative theory has been proposed, that developmental plasticity can allow some individuals within a migratory species to establish a disjunct breeding range through loss of migration, thus facilitating the founding of a new sedentary species. We used mtDNA and two nuclear introns to perform coalescent analyses for two closely related New World oriole species, one a long-distance temperate-tropical migrant and the other a short-distance intratropical migrant. Our results suggest that the short-distance migrant recently diverged from the long-distance migrant via a founder event. In this species pair, the widely accepted paradigm is not supported. These results are consistent with a model of speciation through reduction of migratory distance.