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Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Aves
Subclassis: Carinatae
Infraclassis: Neornithes
Parvclassis: Neognathae
Ordo: Passeriformes
Subordo: Passeri
Parvordo: Passerida
Superfamilia: Passeroidea
Familia: Icteridae
Genus: Cacicus
Species: C. cela - C. chrysonotus - C. chrysopterus - C. haemorrhous - C. koepckeae - C. melanicterus - C. sclateri - C. solitarius - C. uropygialis


Cacicus Lacepede, 1799

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. 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.[1] The type species was subsequently designated as the red-rumped cacique.[2]

Species of Cacicus

Image Scientific name Subspecies Common Name Distribution
Yellow-rumped cacique 10.jpg Cacicus cela Yellow-rumped cacique South America from Panama and Trinidad south to Peru, Bolivia and central Brazil
Red-rumped Cacique.jpg Cacicus haemorrhous Red-rumped cacique south-eastern and coastal Brazil, including Paraguay, and parts of north-eastern Argentina
Cacicus uropygialis -Panama-8.jpg Cacicus uropygialis
  • Subtropical cacique, Cacicus (uropygialis) uropygialis
  • Scarlet-rumped cacique, Cacicus (uropygialis) microrhynchus
  • Pacific cacique, Cacicus (uropygialis/microrhynchus) pacificus
Scarlet-rumped cacique western Colombia south to Ecuador
Cacicus koepckeae Selva cacique Peru
Cacicus chrysopterus -Reserva Guainumbi, Sao Luiz do Paraitinga, Sao Paulo, Brasil-8.jpg Cacicus chrysopterus Golden-winged cacique Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay
Northern Mountain Cacique (Cacicus chrysonotus).jpg Cacicus chrysonotus
  • Southern mountain cacique, Cacicus (chrysonotus) chrysonotus
  • Northern mountain cacique, Cacicus (chrysonotus) leucoramphus
Mountain cacique Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela
Cacicus sclateri Ecuadorian cacique Colombia, eastern Ecuador and northeastern Peru
Solitary Cacique - Pantanal - Brazil H8O0547 (23889343835).jpg 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

See also

Mexican cacique, Cassiculus melanicterus
Yellow-billed cacique, Amblycercus holosericeus


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.

Paynter, Raymond A. Jr, ed. (1968). Check-list of birds of the world. Volume 14. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 144.

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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