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Cacique (bird)

Golden-winged cacique
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Icteridae
Genus: Cacicus
Lacépède, 1799
Type species
Oriolus haemorrhous[1]
Linnaeus, 1766

See text.

The caciques are passerine birds in the New World blackbird family which are resident breeders in tropical South America north to Mexico. All of the group are in currently placed in the genus Cacicus, except the aberrant yellow-billed cacique (Amblycercus holosericeus), and the Mexican cacique (Cassiculus melanicterus) which constitute respective monotypic genera. Judging from mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b and NADH dehydrogenase subunit 2 sequence (Price & Lanyon 2002), the aberrant oropendolas band-tailed oropendola (Ocyalus latirostris) and casqued oropendola, Psarocolius oseryi (Ocyalus oseryi?) seem to be closer to the caciques.

Nesting colony of the red-rumped cacique (a single bird perched center-left)

The caciques are birds associated with woodland or forest. Most are colonial breeders, with several long, hanging, bag-shaped nests in a tree, each suspended from the end of a branch. Some species choose a tree that also contains an active wasp nest (such as Polybia rejecta) as a deterrent to predators (e.g. toucans), and females compete for the best sites near the protection of the wasp nest.[citation needed] The eggs are incubated by the female alone.

These are slim birds with long tails and a predominantly black plumage. The relatively long pointed bill is pale greenish, yellowish or bluish, depending on species, and most caciques have blue eyes (at least when adult). The female is typically smaller than the male.

Two species have the black plumage enlivened by a red rump, five have a yellow rump and in some cases yellow on the shoulders or crissum (the undertail coverts surrounding the cloaca). The two remaining species are all black with no bright colour patches. A single species, the Mexican cacique, has extensive yellow to the tail, but otherwise all caciques have largely black tails (something that separates them from the larger oropendolas).

Caciques eat large insects and fruit. Most are gregarious and typically seen in small groups. They are very vocal, producing a wide range of songs, sometimes including mimicry.

Most remain fairly common and are able to withstand some habitat modifications, but two west Amazonian species, the Ecuadorian and Selva caciques, are notably local and scarce.

The genus Cacicus was introduced by the French naturalist Bernard Germain de Lacépède in 1799.[2] The type species was subsequently designated as the red-rumped cacique (Cacicus haemorrhous).[3]


The genus contains 11 species.[4]

Image Scientific name Common Name Distribution
Cacicus solitarius Solitary cacique Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela
Cacicus chrysopterus Golden-winged cacique Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay
Cacicus koepckeae Selva cacique Peru
Cacicus sclateri Ecuadorian cacique Colombia, eastern Ecuador and northeastern Peru
Cacicus cela Yellow-rumped cacique South America from Panama and Trinidad south to Peru, Bolivia and central Brazil
Cacicus microrhynchus Scarlet-rumped cacique western Colombia south to Ecuador
Cacicus uropygialis Subtropical cacique Venezuela through Andes to Peru
Cacicus chrysonotus Mountain cacique Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela
Cacicus latirostris Band-tailed oropendola western Amazon in Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and far southern Colombia
Cacicus oseryi Casqued oropendola Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru
Cacicus haemorrhous Red-rumped cacique south-eastern and coastal Brazil, including Paraguay, and parts of north-eastern Argentina

See also


  1. ^ "Icteridae". The Trust for Avian Systematics. Retrieved 2023-07-16.
  2. ^ Lacépède, Bernard Germain de (1799). "Tableau des sous-classes, divisions, sous-division, ordres et genres des oiseux". Discours d'ouverture et de clôture du cours d'histoire naturelle (in French). Paris: Plassan. p. 6. Page numbering starts at one for each of the three sections.
  3. ^ Paynter, Raymond A. Jr, ed. (1968). Check-list of Birds of the World. Vol. 14. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 144.
  4. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David; Rasmussen, Pamela, eds. (July 2023). "Oropendolas, orioles, blackbirds". IOC World Bird List Version 13.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 19 November 2023.
  • ffrench, Richard; O'Neill, John Patton & Eckelberry, Don R. (1991): A guide to the birds of Trinidad and Tobago (2nd edition). Comstock Publishing, Ithaca, N.Y.. ISBN 0-8014-9792-2
  • Hilty, Steven L. (2003): Birds of Venezuela. Christopher Helm, London. ISBN 0-7136-6418-5
  • Jaramillo, Alvaro & Burke, Peter (1999): New World Blackbirds. Christopher Helm, London. ISBN 0-7136-4333-1
  • Price, J. Jordan & Lanyon, Scott M. (2002): A robust phylogeny of the oropendolas: Polyphyly revealed by mitochondrial sequence data. Auk 119(2): 335–348. DOI: 10.1642/0004-8038(2002)119[0335:ARPOTO]2.0.CO;2 PDF fulltext
  • Stiles, F. Gary & Skutch, Alexander Frank (1989): A guide to the birds of Costa Rica. Comistock, Ithaca. ISBN 0-8014-9600-4
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Cacique (bird)
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