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Yellow-winged Cacique Cassiculus melanicterus


This striking crested black and yellow cacique, is practically endemic to the Mexican west coast, although it is now known from northernmost Guatemala; it is the northernmost of all caciques. Perhaps a more appropriate English name for this species is Mexican Cacique or Crested Cacique, particularly since it is no more yellow-winged than several other congeners. This is a weird cacique, and it was formerly classified in its own genus, Cassiculus. It is a long tailed and slim cacique with a rather long and noticeable crest which flops around as the bird moves, this is the only nicely crested cacique! In one of its displays, the crest is fanned, reminiscent of a native headdress. This cacique is black with yellow on the wings, rump, crissum and tail, and it has a long and thin whitish bill. This is a loud and conspicuous species, and it makes and odd song which begins with various liquid sounds and then is followed by a sound that resembles a rusty barn door swinging open. The Yellow-winged Cacique is a bird of dry forest and thorn scrub, although it also ranges into moister tropical forest; but it tends to stay below 1000m, away from the greener and denser subtropical forest. As is classic of caciques, this species builds a long pendant nest, usually less than 80cm in length. They are usually colonial, but the colonies are small, of 3 – 10 nests and in some cases the birds may nest singly. Similar to some Mexican orioles, this cacique sometimes hangs the nest from telephone or electrical wires; but more standard is that they are placed high in a tall tree. This species is commonly parasitized by the Bronzed Cowbird (Molothrus aeneus), a cowbird which has a special predilection for other icterids.

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© Geoffrey A. Keller

  • Year-round
  • Migration
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  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Yellow-winged Cacique (Cassiculus melanicterus), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: