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A photo of a Yellow-rumped Cacique (Cacicus cela)
Yellow-rumped Cacique

Yellow-rumped Cacique

Cacicus cela

The Yellow-rumped Cacique (Cacicus cela) is a passerine bird of striking contrast, belonging to the New World family Icteridae. It is a slim bird, adorned with predominantly black plumage, which is complemented by a vivid yellow rump, tail base, lower belly, and wing "epaulets". The male, larger than the female, measures an average of 28 centimeters in length and weighs about 104 grams. The female, slightly smaller at 23 centimeters, weighs approximately 60 grams. Both sexes have blue eyes and a pale yellow pointed bill, with the female presenting a duller black hue compared to the male. Juveniles resemble females but have dark eyes and a brown bill base.

Identification Tips

When identifying the Yellow-rumped Cacique, look for the distinctive yellow rump and lower belly, which contrast sharply with the bird's otherwise black body. The long tail and pointed bill are also key features. Males are larger and have a brighter black coloration than females.

Habitat

This species thrives in open woodlands and cultivated areas that boast large trees, which provide both food and nesting opportunities.

Distribution

The Yellow-rumped Cacique is native to northern South America, with its range extending from Panama and Trinidad southward to Peru, Bolivia, and central Brazil. Sightings have been reported as far north as Nayarit state in Mexico.

Behaviour

The Yellow-rumped Cacique is known for its gregarious nature. It feeds on a diet of large insects, spiders, nectar, and fruit, making it an active forager across its habitat.

Song & Calls

The male's song is a captivating blend of fluting notes interspersed with cackles, wheezes, and occasionally mimicry. The species has a repertoire of varied calls, and the sounds of an active colony can carry over a considerable distance.

Breeding

A colonial breeder, the Yellow-rumped Cacique may construct up to 100 bag-shaped nests in a single tree, often in the vicinity of an active wasp nest for protection. The female is solely responsible for nest building, incubation, and chick rearing. Nests are 30–45 cm long, widening at the base, and hang from the end of a branch. The typical clutch consists of two pale blue or white eggs, speckled with dark blotches. Incubation starts after the second egg is laid and lasts for about 13 to 14 days. Fledging occurs in 34 to 40 days, with usually only one chick per nest reaching this stage.

Similar Species

The Yellow-rumped Cacique can be confused with other members of the Icteridae family, but its distinctive yellow rump and lower belly, as well as its unique nesting habits, help differentiate it from its relatives.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Yellow-rumped Cacique includes beetles, caterpillars, crickets, grasshoppers, katydids, orb-weaver spiders, nectar, and fruits such as chupa-chupa and figs. It forages both in the canopy and at lower levels, often in groups.

Conservation status

The IUCN has classified the Yellow-rumped Cacique as Least Concern, noting that the species has benefited from the creation of more open habitats due to deforestation and ranching. It does not currently face significant threats to its population.

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