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Species Guide

Black Oropendola

Psarocolius guatimozinus

The black oropendola, a member of the New World blackbird family, is a bird of striking appearance. Males reach a length of approximately 46 cm, while females are slightly smaller at about 39.5 cm. Both sexes share a predominantly black plumage, accented with a dark chestnut on the back, rump, wing-coverts, and crissum. A distinctive feature is the bluish bare patch on the cheek, which is delicately edged with pink at its lower edge. The beak is black with an orange tip, adding to the bird's unique visage.

Identification Tips

When observing the black oropendola, look for its glossy black body contrasted with chestnut highlights. The cheek patch and orange-tipped beak are key identifiers. In flight, the bird's size and coloration are notable, as is its distinctive profile.


This species thrives in subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, where it can be found high in the canopy, a realm it navigates with agility.


The black oropendola is endemic to the humid forests of northwestern South America. Its territory spans northwestern Colombia, reaching as far east as the Magdalena River, and extends into the southeastern reaches of Panama.


Though not extensively studied, the black oropendola is known to be a colonial nester, with up to twenty individuals weaving their intricate nests in a single tree. It is a versatile forager, feeding on insects, small vertebrates, fruit, and occasionally sipping nectar from flowers. The species is thought to be polygynous, with males courting multiple females. Breeding seasons vary by region, occurring in February in Panama and from April to June in Colombia.

Song & Calls

The vocalizations of the black oropendola have not been thoroughly documented, but like its relatives, it likely has a repertoire of rich and melodious calls that resonate through the forest.


The pale pink eggs of the black oropendola are modestly adorned with reddish-brown blotches. Nesting occurs colonially, with a single tree often hosting the hanging nests of numerous pairs.

Similar Species

While the black oropendola is distinctive, it may be confused with other oropendola species or large blackbirds. However, its unique cheek patch and beak coloration serve as reliable distinguishing features.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the black oropendola is varied, including insects, small vertebrates, and fruit. It is also known to partake in nectar, indicating a role in pollination within its ecosystem.

Conservation status

The black oropendola is classified as "Least Concern" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It enjoys a large range and a stable population trend, with no immediate threats identified to its survival.

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