Animal Update: Yellow-Rumped Caciques

Two female yellow-rumped caciques were recently added to Upland Tropical Rain Forest!

Published April 18, 2019

As their name suggests, yellow-rumped caciques can be identified by their yellow rumps—the area of their body right above their tails. These birds are commonly found in the lowlands of South America, from Panama to Paraguay. In their native habitat, these caciques forage in canopies for a varied diet of insects, fruit and nectar.

Yellow-rumped cacique

Male and female yellow-rumped caciques are dimorphic, which means that they exhibit distinctly different characteristics from one another. Size varies among the two sexes, with males growing to be about 20% larger than females. Another difference between the sexes is apparent during mating. Males mate with many different females, while females only mate with one male each.

Yellow-rumped caciques are perhaps most unique for their wide-ranging vocalizations, which also differ between males and females. These birds have a vocal range unlike any other—mimicking the sounds heard from other birds, or even sounds from amphibians and humans!

Each colony develops its own specific vocalization, or “dialect,” which members of the colony use to communicate. This “dialect” is not necessarily always the same—colonies may change their specific vocalization during breeding season to help identify if birds or other animals are intruding on the colony’s breeding ground.

During breeding season, females are tasked with building nests, while males protect the female. The nests are typically basket-like and are surrounded by the nests of the other caciques in the colony. By staying close to other members of their colony, these birds can band together and protect their nests from predators.

Stay tuned for more Animal Updates!

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