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Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Megaclassis: Osteichthyes
Cladus: Sarcopterygii
Cladus: Rhipidistia
Cladus: Tetrapodomorpha
Cladus: Eotetrapodiformes
Cladus: Elpistostegalia
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Archosauromorpha
Cladus: Crurotarsi
Divisio: Archosauria
Cladus: Avemetatarsalia
Cladus: Ornithodira
Subtaxon: Dinosauromorpha
Cladus: Dinosauriformes
Cladus: Dracohors
Cladus: Dinosauria
Ordo: Saurischia
Cladus: Eusaurischia
Subordo: Theropoda
Cladus: Neotheropoda
Cladus: Averostra
Cladus: Tetanurae
Cladus: Avetheropoda
Cladus: Coelurosauria
Cladus: Tyrannoraptora
Cladus: Maniraptoromorpha
Cladus: Maniraptoriformes
Cladus: Maniraptora
Cladus: Pennaraptora
Cladus: Paraves
Cladus: Eumaniraptora
Cladus: Avialae
Infraclassis: Aves
Cladus: Euavialae
Cladus: Avebrevicauda
Cladus: Pygostylia
Cladus: Ornithothoraces
Cladus: Ornithuromorpha
Cladus: Carinatae
Parvclassis: Neornithes
Cohors: Neognathae
Cladus: Neoaves
Cladus: Telluraves
Cladus: Australaves
Ordo: Passeriformes
Subordo: Passeri
Infraordo: Passerida
Superfamilia: Passeroidea

Familia: Icteridae
Subfamiliae: Agelaiinae – Amblycercinae – Cacicinae – Dolichonychinae – Icterinae – Sturnellinae – Xanthocephalinae
[sec. Remsen et al. (2016)]
Genera (30): AgelaioidesAgelaiusAgelasticusAmblycercusAmblyramphusAnumaraCacicusCassiculusChrysomusCuraeusDivesDolichonyxEuphagusGnorimopsarGymnomystaxHypopyrrhusIcterusLampropsarLeistesMacroagelaiusMolothrusNesopsarOreopsarPsarocoliusPseudoleistesPtiloxenaQuiscalusSturnellaXanthocephalusXanthopsar

Genera synonymized: Clypicterus – Ocyalus – Gymnostinops


Icteridae Vigors, 1825

Typus: Icterus Brisson, 1760

Primary references

Vigors, N.A. 1825. Observations on the Natural Affinities that connect the Orders and Families of Birds. Transactions of the Linnean Society of London 14(3): 395–517. BHL Reference page.

Additional references

Barker, F. K., Burns, K. J., Klicka, J., Lanyon, S. M., & Lovette, I. J. 2013. Going to extremes: Contrasting rates of diversification in a recent radiation of New World passerine birds. Systematic Biology 62 (2): 298–320. DOI: 10.1093/sysbio/sys094 Full article (PDF)Reference page.
Powell, A. F.L.A., Barker, F. K., Lanyon, S. M., Burns, K. J., Klicka, J., & Lovette, I. J. 2014. A comprehensive species-level molecular phylogeny of the New World blackbirds (Icteridae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 71: 94-112. DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2013.11.009 Full article (PDF)Reference page.
Remsen, J.V. Jr., Powell, A.F.L.A., Schodde, R., Barker, F.K. & Lanyon, S.M. 2016. A revised classification of the Icteridae (Aves) based on DNA sequence data. Zootaxa 4093(2): 285–292. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4093.2.9 Reference page.
Schodde, R. & Remsen, J.V., Jr. 2016. Correction of Cassicinae Bonaparte, 1853 (Aves, Icteridae) to Cacicinae Bonaparte, 1853. Zootaxa 4162(1): 188–188. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4162.1.10 Reference page.
Lopes, L.E. 2017. Variation of plumage patterns, geographic distribution and taxonomy of the Unicolored Blackbird (Aves: Icteridae). Zootaxa 4221(4): 431–456. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4221.4.2. Reference page.

Vernacular names
العربية: الصَّفراويَّات
Deutsch: Stärlinge
English: Icterids
Esperanto: Ikteredoj
español: Turpiales
suomi: Turpiaalit
magyar: Csirögefélék
lietuvių: Trupialiniai
Nederlands: Troepialen
norsk nynorsk: Trupialar
norsk: Trupialer
polski: Kacykowate
русский: Трупиаловые
中文: 拟黄鹂科

Icterids (/ˈɪktərɪd/) or New World blackbirds make up a family, the Icteridae (/ɪkˈtɛrɪdi/), of small to medium-sized, often colorful, New World passerine birds. Most species have black as a predominant plumage color, often enlivened by yellow, orange, or red. The species in the family vary widely in size, shape, behavior, and coloration. The name, meaning "jaundiced ones" (from the prominent yellow feathers of many species) comes from the Ancient Greek ikteros via the Latin ictericus. This group includes the New World blackbirds, New World orioles, the bobolink, meadowlarks, grackles, cowbirds, oropendolas, and caciques.

Despite the similar names, the first groups are only distantly related to the Old World common blackbird (a thrush) or the Old World orioles.

The Icteridae are not to be confused with the Icteriidae, a family created in 2017 and consisting of one species — the yellow-breasted chat (Icteria virens).[1]


Most icterid species live in the tropics, although many species also occur in temperate regions, such as the red-winged blackbird and the long-tailed meadowlark. The highest densities of breeding species are found in Colombia and southern Mexico.[2] They inhabit a range of habitats, including scrub, swamp, forest, and savanna.[3] Temperate species are migratory, with many species that nest in the United States and Canada moving south into Mexico and Central America.
Breeding male Brewer's blackbird apparently gaping (see text) in soil

Icterids are variable in size, and often display considerable sexual dimorphism, with brighter coloration and greater size in males being typical. While such dimorphism is widely known in passerines, the sexual dimorphism by size is uniquely extreme in icterids. For example, the male great-tailed grackle is 60% heavier than the female. The smallest icterid species is the orchard oriole, in which the female averages 15 cm in length (6 in) and 18 g (0.040 lb) in weight, while the largest is the Amazonian oropendola, the male of which measures 52 cm (20 in) and weighs about 550 g (1.21 lb). This variation is greater than in any other passerine family (unless the kinglet calyptura belongs with the cotingas, which would then have greater variation[4]). One unusual morphological adaptation shared by the icterids is gaping, where the skull is configured to allow them open their bills strongly rather than passively, allowing them to force open gaps to obtain otherwise hidden food.

Icterids have adapted to taking a wide range of foods. Oropendolas and caciques use their gaping motion to open the skins of fruit to obtain the soft insides, and have long bills adapted to the process. Others such as cowbirds and the bobolink have shorter, stubbier bills for crushing seeds. The Jamaican blackbird uses its bill to pry amongst tree bark and epiphytes, and has adopted the evolutionary niche filled elsewhere in the Neotropics by woodcreepers. Orioles drink nectar.

The nesting habits of these birds are also variable, including pendulous woven nests in the oropendolas and orioles. Many icterids are colonial, nesting in colonies of up to 100,000 birds. Some cowbird species engage in brood parasitism; females lay their eggs in the nests of other species, in a similar fashion to some cuckoos.[3]

Some species of icterid have become agricultural pests; for example, red-winged blackbirds in the United States are considered the worst vertebrate pests on some crops, such as rice.[5] The cost of controlling blackbirds in California was $30 per acre in 1994. Not all species have been as successful, and a number of species are threatened with extinction. These include insular forms such as the Jamaican blackbird, yellow-shouldered blackbird, and St Lucia oriole, all threatened by habitat loss; and the tricolored blackbird of California, which is threatened by habitat loss and destruction of nests.


Cacique and oropendola species are called paucar or similar names in Peru.[6][7] As paucares are considered very intelligent, Native Americans feed the brains to their children to make them fast learners.[8] As the male plays no part in nesting and care of the young, a man who does not work may be called a "male paucar".[9]

For more details, see List of icterid species.


Image Genus Living Species
Bobolink at Lake Woodruff (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) - Flickr - Andrea Westmoreland.jpg Dolichonyx Swainson, 1827
  • Bobolink, Dolichonyx oryzivorus
Blackbird tricolored male summer california monte-m-taylor.jpg Agelaius Vieillot, 1816
  • Red-winged blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  • Red-shouldered blackbird, Agelaius assimilis
  • Tricolored blackbird, Agelaius tricolor
  • Tawny-shouldered blackbird, Agelaius humeralis
  • Yellow-shouldered blackbird, Agelaius xanthomus
DRAGON Xanthopsar flavus Dario Niz.jpg Xanthopsar Ridgway, 1901
  • Saffron-cowled blackbird, Xanthopsar flavus
Yellow-winged Blackbird.jpg Agelasticus Cabanis, 1851
  • Pale-eyed blackbird, Agelasticus xanthophthalmus
  • Yellow-winged blackbird, Agelasticus thilius
  • Unicolored blackbird, Agelasticus cyanopus
Chrysomus icterocephalus (Monjita pantanera) (8) (14420579547).jpg Chrysomus Swainson, 1837
  • Yellow-hooded blackbird, Chrysomus icterocephalus
  • Chestnut-capped blackbird, Chrysomus ruficapillus
Nesopsar nigerrimus.jpg Nesopsar P.L. Sclater, 1859
  • Jamaican blackbird, Nesopsar nigerrimus
Sturnella magna -Mexico-8.jpg Sturnella Vieillot, 1816
  • Eastern meadowlark, Sturnella magna
    • Lilian's meadowlark, S. m. lilianae
  • Western meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
Sturnella superciliaris -Vale do Ribeira, Registro, Sao Paulo, Brazil -8.jpg Leistes Vigors, 1825
  • Red-breasted meadowlark, Leistes militaris
  • White-browed meadowlark, Leistes superciliaris
  • Peruvian meadowlark, Leistes bellicosus
  • Pampas meadowlark, Leistes defillippi
  • Long-tailed meadowlark, Leistes loyca
Yellow-Headed Blackbird "Posing" for the Camera (22727158809).jpg Xanthocephalus Bonaparte, 1850
  • Yellow-headed blackbird, Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus
Tordo Cantor - panoramio.jpg Dives Cassin, 1867
  • Cuban blackbird, Dives atroviolacea
  • Melodious blackbird, Dives dives
  • Scrub blackbird, Dives warszewiczi
Euphagus cyanocephalus -California -USA-6a.jpg Euphagus Cassin, 1867
  • Brewer's blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  • Rusty blackbird, Euphagus carolinus
Quiscalus major -Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area, Florida, USA -male-8.jpg Quiscalus Vieillot, 1816
  • Boat-tailed grackle, Quiscalus major
  • Common grackle, Quiscalus quiscula
  • Great-tailed grackle, Quiscalus mexicanus
  • Nicaraguan grackle, Quiscalus nicaraguensis
  • Greater Antillean grackle, Quiscalus niger
  • Carib grackle, Quiscalus lugubris
  • † Slender-billed grackle, Quiscalus palustris
Grayish baywing.jpg Agelaioides Cassin, 1866
  • Grayish baywing, Agelaioides badius
  • Pale baywing, Agelaioides fringillarius
Molothrus ater 2.jpg Molothrus Swainson, 1832
  • Screaming cowbird, Molothrus rufoaxillaris
  • Giant cowbird, Molothrus oryzivorus
  • Bronzed cowbird, Molothrus aeneus
  • Shiny cowbird, Molothrus bonariensis
  • Brown-headed cowbird, Molothrus ater
Icterus pustulatus 1.jpg Icterus Brisson, 1760
  • 30 species
Amblycercus holosericeus.jpg Amblycercus Cabanis, 1851
  • yellow-billed cacique, Amblycercus holosericeus
Mexican Cacique (Cacicus melanicterus) (8079400090).jpg Cassiculus Swainson, 1827
  • Mexican cacique or yellow-winged cacique, Cassiculus melanicterus
Yellow-rumped cacique 10.jpg Cacicus Lacepede, 1799
  • 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
  • Band-tailed oropendola, Cacicus latirostris
  • Casqued oropendola, Cacicus oseryi
Montezuma Oropendola (16426688906).jpg Psarocolius Wagler, 1827
  • Black oropendola, Psarocolius guatimozinus
  • Chestnut-headed oropendola, Psarocolius wagleri
  • Russet-backed oropendola, Psarocolius angustifrons
  • Dusky-green oropendola, Psarocolius atrovirens
  • Green oropendola, Psarocolius viridis
  • Crested oropendola, Psarocolius decumanus
  • Montezuma oropendola, Psarocolius montezuma
  • Baudo oropendola, Psarocolius cassini
  • Olive oropendola, Psarocolius bifasciatus
Gymnomystax mexicanus - Tordo maicero - Venezuela.jpg Gymnomystax L. Reichenbach, 1850
  • Oriole blackbird, Gymnomystax mexicanus
CHOPIM-DO-BREJO (Pseudoleistes guirahuro)2.jpg Pseudoleistes P.L. Sclater, 1862
  • Yellow-rumped marshbird, Pseudoleistes guirahuro
  • Brown-and-yellow marshbird, Pseudoleistes virescens
Scarlet-headed Blackbird - Pantanal - Brazil MG 9585 (23262522193).jpg Amblyramphus Leach, 1814
  • Scarlet-headed blackbird, Amblyramphus holosericeus
Red-bellied Grackle - Medellin - Colombia S4E5638 (23889365655).jpg Hypopyrrhus Bonaparte, 1850
  • Red-bellied grackle, Hypopyrrhus pyrohypogaster
Curaeus curaeus - Flickr - Dick Culbert.jpg Curaeus (PL Sclater, 1862)
  • Austral blackbird,Curaeus curaeus
Anumara Powell et al., 2014
  • Forbes's Blackbird, Anumara forbesi
Chopi Blackbird.jpg Gnorimopsar Richmond, 1908
  • Chopi blackbird, Gnorimopsar chopi
Oreopsar WL Sclater, 1939
  • Bolivian blackbird, Oreopsar bolivianus
Lampropsar Cabanis, 1847
  • Velvet-fronted grackle, Lampropsar tanagrinus
Columbian Mountain Grackle (Macroagelaius subalaris) (8079736640).jpg Macroagelaius Cassin, 1866
  • Golden-tufted mountain grackle, Macroagelaius imthurni
  • Colombian mountain grackle, Macroagelaius subalaris

Prehistoric icterid genera that have been described from Pleistocene fossil remains are Pandanaris from Rancho La Brea and Pyelorhamphus from Shelter Cave.

Chesser, R. Terry; Burns, Kevin J.; Cicero, Carla; Dunn, Jon L.; Kratter, Andrew W.; Lovette, Irby J.; Rasmussen, Pamela C.; Remsen, J. V.; Rising, James D. (2017). "Fifty-eighth supplement to the American Ornithological Society's Check-list of North American Birds". The Auk. 134 (3): 751–773. doi:10.1642/auk-17-72.1.
Lowther P (1975) "Geographic and Ecological Variation in the Family Icteridae" Wilson Bulletin 87 (4): 481-495
Parkes, Kenneth C. (1991), Forshaw, Joseph (ed.), Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds, London: Merehurst Press, pp. 214–215, ISBN 1-85391-186-0
Prum, Richard O.; Snow, David W. (2003), "Cotingas", in Christopher Perrins (ed.), Firefly Encyclopedia of Birds, Firefly Books, pp. 432–433, ISBN 1-55297-777-3
Dolbeer, R & S Ickes (1994) "Red-winged Blackbird feeding preferences and response to wild rice treated with Portland cement or plaster" Vertebrate Pest Conference Proceedings collection Proceedings of the Sixteenth Vertebrate Pest Conference (1994) (W.S. Halverson& A.C. Crabb, Eds.) Univ. of Calif.:Davis.
Manu Peru Manu - Aves, Enjoy Corporation S. A., 2007, archived from the original on 2006-02-25, retrieved 2007-09-28
Muyuna Amazon Lodge, Iquitos - Peru, retrieved 2007-09-28. Click the link to Fauna and scroll forward one page.
Moyobamba - Peru, 2007, archived from the original on 2008-01-06, retrieved 2007-09-28. The source given is Moyobamba, apuntes turísticos y geográficos by Pedro Vargas Roja.

Aves en Soritor - Distrito de soritor Moyobamba - Alto Mayo - San Martín - Peru, 2006, retrieved 2007-09-28

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[dead link]
Bosque de Protección Alto Mayo - Perfil de Parque - Biodiversidad, ParksWatch, 2004, retrieved 2007-09-28. English version (not containing the word paucar).

Further reading
Powell, A.F.L.A.; Barker, F.K.; Lanyon, S.M.; Burns, K.J.; Klicka, J.; Lovette, I.J. (2014). "A comprehensive species-level molecular phylogeny of the New World blackbirds (Icteridae)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 71: 94–112. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2013.11.009. PMID 24291659.
Remsen, J.V. Jr.; Powell, A.F.L.A.; Schodde, R.; Barker, F.K.; Lanyon, S.M. (2016). "A revised classification of the Icteridae (Aves) based on DNA sequence data". Zootaxa. 4093 (2): 285–292. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4093.2.9. PMID 27394496.

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