Chestnut-headed oropendola | American birds

   ›      ›   Chestnut-headed oropendola - Psarocolius wagleri

The chestnut-headed oropendola (Psarocolius wagleri) belongs to the family of cowbirds and oropendolas, the Icteridae.

The chestnut-headed oropendola is distributed in northwest South America and the southern North America. The oropendola species has dark reddish brown head, face, throat and upper breast. This oropendola is a polytypic species.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Chestnut-headed Oropendola Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Appearance, physical description and identification

The chestnut-headed oropendola (Psarocolius wagleri) is a medium-sized oropendola, measuring 25 to 35 cm in length and weighing 110 to 210 grams.

The chestnut-headed oropendola has dark purplish-reddish brown colored head, nape, face, throat, upper breast and rump. The wings and back are bluish black. The tail is bright yellow and the two central feathers are dark.

The lower breast and belly are blackish. The vent region and the undertail coverts are pale reddish brown. The female is duller and smaller. The juveniles are duller and have brown irises.

The long, thick bill is whitish. The irises are blue. The legs and feet are dark gray. The oropendola call is a loud "chek" and "chuk" sound.
Image of Chestnut-headed oropendola - Psarocolius wagleri
1.American birds - Image of Chestnut-headed oropendola - Psarocolius wagleri by Francesco Veronesi

Image of Chestnut-headed oropendola - Psarocolius wagleri
2.American birds - Image of Chestnut-headed oropendola - Psarocolius wagleri by Mike's Birds

Image of Chestnut-headed oropendola - Psarocolius wagleri
3.American birds - Image of Chestnut-headed oropendola - Psarocolius wagleri by Dominic Sherony

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The chestnut-headed oropendola species is distributed from southeast Mexico to Northwest South America.

The chestnut-headed oropendola nominate subspecies P. w. wagleri is distributed in southeast Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and northeast Nicaragua.

The subspecies P. w. ridgwayi is distributed in central and south Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, northern and coastal Colombia and northwest Ecuador.

Ecosystem and habitat

The chestnut-headed oropendola species have moderate forest dependence. They normally occur in altitudes between 0 to 1200 meters. The artificial ecosystems and habitats of these species include plantations.

The natural ecosystems and habitats of these chestnut-headed oropendola species include tropical and subtropical moist lowland forests and foothill forests.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of this chestnut-headed oropendola species consists mainly of small vertebrates. Insects, frogs, lizards, fruits, berries and nectar are their primary food. They feed on the ground as well as in trees.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these chestnut-headed oropendola species is from January to June. They are colonial breeders and are polygynous. They nest on isolated tall trees.

The nest is a hanging woven structure of fibers and vines. Several nests may be seen hanging from the same tree. The clutch contains two pale blue eggs with dark markings. The chicks hatch out in 16 days and fledge in 30 days.

Migration and movement patterns

These chestnut-headed oropendola species are non-migratory resident birds. The populations in higher altitudes descend to lower levels in winter.

Post breeding, the juvenile oropendolas may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. Within their range they may make local movements for feeding and breeding.

Chestnut-headed oropendola - Quick Facts

  • Scientific name: Psarocolius wagleri
  • Species author: (J E Gray, 1845)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Cacicus Wagleri G. R. Gray, 1844
  • Family: Icteridae › Passeriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Chestnut-headed oropendola, Chinese: 栗头拟掠鸟, French: Cassique à tête brune, German: Rotkopf-Stirnvogel, Spanish: Cacique cabecicastaño, Russian: Каштановоголовая оропендола, Japanese: クリガシラオオツリスドリ
  • Other names: Chestnut-headed Oropendola
  • Distribution: North America, South America
  • Diet and feeding habits: invertebrates, small vertebrates, seeds, nectar
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the chestnut-headed oropendola (Psarocolius wagleri) is estimated to be about 50,000 to 500,000 individual birds (A. Panjabi in litt. 2008). The overall population trend of the species is considered to be stable.

In most of its range, this oropendola species is reported to be locally common to uncommon. The generation length is 4.6 years. Its distribution size is about 2,210,000

Habitat alteration, human disturbance, deforestation and capture for pet-trade are the main threats that are endangering the survival of this oropendola species.

IUCN and CITES status

The chestnut-headed oropendola (Psarocolius wagleri) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable either under the range size criterion, or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the oropendola species and has listed it as of "Least Concern".

The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for the chestnut-headed oropendola (Psarocolius wagleri).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Psarocolius wagleri
Species:P. wagleri
Binomial name:Psarocolius wagleri
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
The two recognized subspecies of the chestnut-headed oropendola (Psarocolius wagleri) are:
Psarocolius wagleri wagleri (G. R. Gray, 1844) and
Psarocolius wagleri ridgwayi (van Rossem, 1934).
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1.Chestnut-headed oropendola image source: (cropped)
Author: Francesco Veronesi | License: CC BY-SA 2.0 as on 8/3/18
2.Image source: (cropped)
Author: Mike's Birds | License: CC BY-SA 2.0 as on 8/3/18
3.Image source: (cropped)
Author: Dominic Sherony | License: CC BY-SA 2.0 as on 8/3/18
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