Unsorted Wild Birds

Oropendolas – bird genus Psarocolius

The oropendolas comprise two or three genera of South and Central American passerine birds in the New World blackbird family.

Oropendolas are birds associated with forests or, for a few species, more open woodland.


All the oropendolas are large birds with pointed bills, and long tails which are always at least partially bright yellow.

Males are usually larger than females.

Crested Oropendola (Psarocolius decumanus)
Green Oropendola (Psarocolius viridis)

The plumage is typically chestnut, dark brown or black, although the Green and Olive Oropendolas have, as their names imply, an olive coloration to the head, breast and upper back. The legs are dark, but the bill is usually a strikingly contrasting feature, either pale yellow, or red-tipped with a green or black base.

In several species there is also a blue or pink bare cheek patch.

Russet-backed ORopendola

Nesting / Breeding

They are colonial breeders, with several long woven basket nests in a tree, each hanging from the end of a branch.

Diet / Feeding

These gregarious birds eat large insects and fruit.

Call / Vocalization

They are very vocal, producing a wide range of songs, sometimes including mimicry.


6 of the species in the genus Psarocolius indeed belong there:

Crested Oropendola

Four somewhat different species were formerly separated in the genus Gymnostinops. Alternatively, the Crested Oropendola (and possibly others) would also belong here (Price and Lanyon 2002):

Price and Lanyon (2002) used mtDNA cytochrome b and NADH dehydrogenase subunit 2 sequence data to research oropendola phylogeny. As is fairly obvious from morphology, the Band-tailed Oropendola, Ocyalus latirostris and Casqued Oropendola, Psarocolius oseryi are the most distinct oropendola species.

In fact, they appear to be more closely related to the caciques and both species would go into Ocyalus. Alternatively, the Casqued Oropendola may be separated in Clypicterus, which like Ocyalus would then be a monotypic genus.

Olive (Amazonian) Oropendola (Psarocolius bifasciatus)


  • ffrench, Richard; O’Neill, John Patton and 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
  • Hilty, Steven L. (2003): Birds of Venezuela. Christopher Helm, London. ISBN 0-7136-6418-5
  • Jaramillo, Alvaro and Burke, Peter (1999): New World Blackbirds. Christopher Helm, London. ISBN 0-7136-4333-1
  • Price, J. Jordan and 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
  • Stiles, F. Gary and Skutch, Alexander Frank (1989): A guide to the birds of Costa Rica. Comistock, Ithaca. ISBN 0-8014-9600-4
Crested Oropendola (Psarocolius decumanus)

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button