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.
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. 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).
Species of Cacicus
|Image||Scientific name||Subspecies||Common Name||Distribution|
|Cacicus cela||Yellow-rumped cacique||South America from Panama and Trinidad south to Peru, Bolivia and central Brazil|
|Cacicus haemorrhous||Red-rumped cacique||south-eastern and coastal Brazil, including Paraguay, and parts of north-eastern Argentina|
||Scarlet-rumped cacique||western Colombia south to Ecuador|
|Cacicus koepckeae||Selva cacique||Peru|
|Cacicus chrysopterus||Golden-winged cacique||Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay|
||Mountain cacique||Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela|
|Cacicus sclateri||Ecuadorian cacique||Colombia, eastern Ecuador and northeastern Peru|
|Cacicus solitarius||Solitary cacique||Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, 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|
- 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
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cacicus.|
- Cacique videos, photos and sounds—Internet Bird Collection