Scientific Name: Psarocolius decumanus
The Oropendola gets its name from the male’s mating behavior. It hangs upside down (like a pendulum), spreads its wings, and sings to prospective mates.
This bird belongs to the family Icteridae, which means “jaundiced ones” in both Greek (ikteros) and Latin (ictericus). This is because yellow feathers are found somewhere on the body of every species in the family.
STATUS: The crested oropendola is listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), although populations are scattered and its tropical habitat is diminishing due to human encroachment.
HABITAT: They are found throughout South America, primarily the Amazon River Basin region and other tropical areas. They live in forests, jungles, grasslands, savannas, and marshes.
DIET: Oropendolas are omnivorous and eat a variety of insects, seeds, and fruit.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Oropendolas are medium-sized black birds with a light yellow cone-shaped beak and bright, vivid yellow tail feathers. Its legs and feet are black.The males are larger, measuring 13 to 17 inches long, and more brightly colored than the females, a trait seen in most passerines (perching birds). Males also have a barely visible crest on the head, which the females lack.
No Place Like Home
Oropendolas make one of the most unusual and unique nests in the bird world. The nest is woven by the females of grasses and palm frond fibers and can be three to six feet long. Despite its large size, the nest is suspended by only a few strands of grass or frond fibers, which hang from a branch high in an isolated tree. The female incubates the eggs while the male protects the nest from predators.
Oropendolas are gregarious and live in large flocks of up to 100 birds. During breeding season, the flock divides into smaller colonies of 1 to 4 males and 15 to 30 females, but the colonies remain close together for protection.