|File:Cacicus chrysopterus -Argentina-8.jpg|
|Genus:|| Cacicus (and see text)|
The caciques are passerine birds in the New World blackbird family. Members of the family are resident breeders in tropical South America and north to Mexico. All of the group are 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 Yellow-winged 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
- Golden-winged Cacique, Cacicus chrysopterus
- Ecuadorian Cacique, Cacicus sclateri
- Selva Cacique, Cacicus koepckeae
- Western Yellow-rumped Cacique, Cacicus flavicrissus
- Amazonian Yellow-rumped Cacique, Cacicus cela
- Subtropical Cacique, Cacicus uropygialis
- Scarlet-rumped Cacique, Cacicus microrhynchus
- Pacific Cacique, Cacicus pacificus
- Northern Mountain-Cacique, Cacicus leucoramphus
- Southern Mountain-Cacique, Cacicus chrysonotus
- Band-tailed Oropendola, Cacicus latirostris
- Red-rumped Cacique, Cacicus haemorrhous
- Casqued Oropendola, Cacicus oseryi
In other genera
- Yellow-winged Cacique, Cassiculus melanicterus
- Solitary Black Cacique or Solitary Cacique, Procacicus solitarius
- 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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