Montezuma Oropendola

The Montezuma Oropendola, Psarocolius montezuma, is a New World tropical bird of the family Icteridae. It is a resident breeder in the Caribbean coastal lowlands from southeastern Mexico to central Panama, but is absent from El Salvador and southern Guatemala. It also occurs on the Pacific slope of Nicaragua and northwestern Costa Rica. It inhabits forest canopy, edges and old plantations.

The sexes are very different in size. The male is 19.7 inches long and weighs 18.33 ounces while the female is only 15 inches long and weighs just over 8 ounces. Adult males are mainly chestnut with a black head and rump. The tail is bright yellow apart from two dark central feathers. There is a bare blue cheek patch and a pink wattle. The long bill is black at the base with a red tip. Females are similar except for a smaller wattle.

It is a colonial breeder which builds a hanging woven nest of fibers and vines high in a tree. Each colony has a dominant male, which mates with most of the females following an elaborate bowing display. The female lays two dark-spotted white or beige eggs which hatch in 15 days. There are typically 30 nests in a colony, but up to 172 have been recorded.

The Montezuma Oropendola is a quite common bird in parts of its range, often seen in small or larger flocks foraging in trees for small vertebrates, large insects, nectar, and some fruit. The English and scientific names of this species commemorate the Aztec emperor Montezuma II.