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Yellow-rumped cacique

Cacicus cela
Photo by Dave Nunez (Flickr)

Common name:
yellow-rumped cacique (en); xexéu (pt); cassique cul-jaune (fr)cacique lomiamarilo (es)gelbrücken-stirnvogel (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Icteridae

These birds are found in northern South America, from Bolivia and south-eastern Brazil to Venezuela, Colombia and Panama.

The males are 27-29 cm long, while the smaller females are 23-25 cm long. The males weigh 100-115 g and the females weigh 65-75 g.

These birds are found along the edges of rainforests and swamp forests. Originally they were found along rivers and oxbow lakes, but now also along roads, pastures, and other human-created edge habitats. They may sometimes be found in dry forests and savannas. The yellow-rumped cacique occurs from sea level up to an altitude of 1.100 m.

They mainly eat arthropods, such caterpillars, grasshoppers, crickets, katydids and spiders, but will also eat fruits, namely chupa-chupa Quararubea cordata and figs Ficus trigona. They are also known to raid the nests of other birds for eggs and nestlings.

The yellow-rumped cacique breeds in July-February. The males are polygynous, sequentially matting with several females during the course of the breeding season, but guarding each female until egg laying. They nest in colonies of 20-100 nests, each nest being built by the female and consisting of a long, hanging bag made of palm fronds, twigs and grasses. The nests are placed hanging from a branch in a low tree, often over water and near wasp nests, which may protect them from predators. There the female lays 2 pale blue or white eggs with dark blotches, which she incubates alone for 13-15 days. The chicks fledge around 25 days after hatching. Each female may raise 2-3 clutches per season.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as common throughout most of its range. Models of deforestation in the Amazon basin suggest the yellow-rumped cacique is loosing suitable habitat at a moderate rate, which may be causing population declines. However, since this species occupies edge habitats, it will probably benefit, at least in the short term, from human activities such as road construction or clearing of forests that create more edge habitats, as long as some large trees and patches of forest remain. Overall, this species is not considered threatened at present.

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