Crested oropendola | American birds

   ›      ›   Crested oropendola - Psarocolius decumanus

The crested oropendola (Psarocolius decumanus) belongs to the family of grackles, cowbirds and oropendolas, the Icteridae.

The crested oropendola is distributed in extreme south of North America and central and northern South America. These oropendola species are resident. These oropendolas are polytypic species.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Crested 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 crested oropendola (Psarocolius decumanus) is a medium-sized oropendola, males measuring 45 to 50 cm in length and weighing 280 to 300 grams. The females are slightly smaller.

The male crested oropendola has overall slightly glossy black plumage. The tail is bright yellow and there are two black central feathers. The rump, uppertail coverts and undertail coverts are chestnut. There is a narrow crest.

The whitish bill is large and pointed. The irises are blue. There is a grayish eye-ring. The legs and feet are dark gray. The crested oropendola call is wow.. wow.. keeee.. wow.. wow sound.
Psarocolius decumanus
1.Crested oropendola - Psarocolius decumanus
Image by Francesco Veronesi

Crested oropendola - Psarocolius decumanus
2.Crested oropendola - Psarocolius decumanus
Image by Charles J Sharp

Psarocolius decumanus
3.Crested oropendola - Psarocolius decumanus
Image by Alastair Rae

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The crested oropendola is distributed in Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Panama, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

The nominate subspecies P. d. decumanus is distributed in Colombia, Venezuela, French Guiana, Guyana, Brazil, Bolivia and Argentina.

The oropendola subspecies P. d. insularis is distributed in Trinidad and Tobago. The subspecies P. d. melanterus is distributed in southern Costa Rica, Panama, and north and west Colombia.

Ecosystem and habitat

The crested oropendola species have moderate forest dependence. They normally occur in altitudes between 0 to 2600 meters. The artificial ecosystems and habitats of these species include plantations and orchards.

The natural ecosystems and habitats of these oropendola species include tropical and subtropical moist lowland forests, secondary growth forests, lower montane forests and moist mangrove forests.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these crested oropendola species consists mainly of fruits. Wild fruits, nectar, insects, spiders and small vertebrates (frogs, lizards) are their primary food. These species are found in flocks foraging in trees.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these crested oropendola species is from January to July in Venezuela. The laying season is from October to December in Argentina.

These oropendolas are colonial breeders and the males are polygamous. A colony of 20 to 30 females may have only 3-5 dominant breeding males.

The breeding habitats include tall trees. The nest is a hanging woven structure attached to the lateral branch of a tree. The nest is built with grass and plant fibers. The clutch contains two bluish gray eggs with dark blotches. The chicks hatch out after 16-18 days of incubation. They fledge after thirty days.

Migration and movement patterns

These crested oropendola species are resident, non-migratory birds. The populations occurring in high altitudes move to lower levels in winter.

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

Crested oropendola - Quick Facts

  • Scientific name: Psarocolius decumanus
  • Species author: (Pallas, 1769)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Xanthornus decumanus Pallas, 1769
  • Family: Icteridae › Passeriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • , Vernacular names: English:Crested oropendola, Chinese: 发冠拟掠鸟, French: Cassique huppé, German: Krähenstirnvogel, Spanish: Cacique crestado, Russian: Хохлатая оропендола, Japanese: カンムリオオツリスドリ
  • Other names: Crested Oropendola
  • Distribution: North America, South America
  • Diet and feeding habits: fruits, nectar, insects, small vertebrates
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the crested oropendola (Psarocolius decumanus) has not been quantified. The overall population trend of the species is considered to be stable.

In most of its range, this species is reported to be 'common but patchily distributed' (Stotz et al. (1996). The generation length is 4.6 years. Its distribution size is about 13,900,000

Habitat alteration, deforestation, human disturbance, hunting and trapping of adults and juveniles for pet-trade are the main threats that are endangering the survival of this species.

IUCN and CITES status

The crested oropendola (Psarocolius decumanus) 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 crested oropendola (Psarocolius decumanus).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Psarocolius decumanus
Species:P. decumanus
Binomial name:Psarocolius decumanus
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
The three recognized subspecies of the crested oropendola (Psarocolius decumanus) are:
P. d. decumanus (Pallas, 1769),
P. d. melanterus (Todd, 1917) and
P. d. insularis (Dalmas, 1900).
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1.Image source: (cropped)
Author: Francesco Veronesi | License: CC BY-SA 2.0 as on 10/15/18
2.Image source: (cropped)
Author: Charles J Sharp | License: CC BY-SA 4.0 as on 10/15/18
2.Image source: (cropped)
Author: Alastair Rae | License: CC BY-SA 2.0 as on 10/15/18
Detailed description and information on distribution, habitat, behavior, feeding and breeding habits, migration and conservation status of beautiful birds with their images.
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