|Genus:||Cacicus (and 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), which constitutes a monotypic genus. 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.
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 as a deterrent to predators (e.g. toucans), and females compete for the best sites near the protection of the wasp nest. 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 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 from the larger oropendolas).
Species of Cacicus
- Yellow-rumped Cacique, Cacicus cela
- Red-rumped Cacique, Cacicus haemorrhous
- Scarlet-rumped Cacique, Cacicus uropygialis
- Subtropical Cacique, Cacicus (uropygialis) uropygialis
- Scarlet-rumped Cacique, Cacicus (uropygialis) microrhynchus
- Pacific Cacique, Cacicus (uropygialis/microrhynchus) pacificus
- Selva Cacique, Cacicus koepckeae
- Golden-winged Cacique, Cacicus chrysopterus
- Mountain Cacique, Cacicus chrysonotus
- Southern Mountain Cacique, Cacicus (chrysonotus) chrysonotus
- Northern Mountain Cacique, Cacicus (chrysonotus) leucoramphus
- Ecuadorian Cacique, Cacicus sclateri
- Solitary Cacique, Cacicus solitarius
- Mexican Cacique, Cacicus melanicterus
- 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
- 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
- Cacique videos, photos and sounds on the Internet Bird Collection
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