The Montezuma Oropendola
, is a New World
tropical icterid bird
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 Honduras and
It is among the oropendola species
sometimes separated in the genus Gymnostinops
. The English
and scientific names of this
species commemorate the Aztec
emperor Moctezuma II
The sexes are very different in size; the male is 50 cm long
and weighs 520 g; the smaller female is 38 cm long and
weighs 230 g.
Head of adult showing wattles
Adult males are mainly chestnut with a blackish head and rump, and
a tail which is bright yellow apart from two dark central feathers.
There is a bare blue cheek patch and a pink wattle, the iris is
brown, and the long bill is black at the base with a red tip.
Females are similar, but smaller than males with a smaller wattle.
Young birds are duller than adults and have a paler and less
demarcated bill. No subspecies
The "unforgettable" (Howell and Webb 1995) song of the male
Montezuma Oropendola is given during the bowing display, and
consists of a conversational bubbling followed by loud gurgles,
. Both sexes have loud
Although the Chestnut-headed
shares much of this species's range, it is smaller,
mainly black with a chestnut head (instead of mainly chestnut with
a blackish head), and lacks coloured facial patches, so the two
are unlikely to be
Hanging nests in Costa Rica.
The Montezuma Oropendola is a quite common bird in parts of its
range, often seen in small or larger flocks foraging in trees for
, large insects
, nectar, and fruit
). Outside the breeding season, this
species is quite mobile, with some seasonal movements.
The Montezuma Oropendola inhabits forest canopy, edges and old
plantations. It is a colonial breeder which builds a hanging woven
nest of fibres and vines, 60–180 cm long, 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 buff egg
hatch in 15 days; the young fledge in 30. There are typically about
30 nests in a colony, but up to 172 have been recorded.
- Database entry includes justification for why this species is
of least concern
- (2007): The potential of fruiting trees to enhance converted
habitats for migrating birds in southern Mexico. Bird
Conservation International 17(1): 45-61.
- (1995): A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central
America. Oxford University Press, Oxford & New York.
- (1999): New World Blackbirds. Christopher Helm, London.
- (1989): A guide to the birds of Costa Rica. Comistock,
Ithaca. ISBN 0-8014-9600-4