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Caciques, Orioles, Blackbirds and Tanagers

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

We're birding together in Guyana. I love showing birds to people. First is the yellow-rumped cacique (Cah-SEEK), an icterid named for pre-Columbian tribal chiefs who probably wore flashy clothes. When this bird flies, his whole back half is glowing yellow. And he's a big boy--about the size of a pigeon. This cacique was on a hunt for palm fruits, which he dispatched neatly with his conical glow-in-the-dark bill. And dig those china blue eyes!
Caciques nest colonially, like their huge relatives the oropendolas, building great sacklike nests of grasses and rootlets. Here's a proud male on his nest:
In the wet meadows along the roads, and especially near airports, we all got quick glimpses of Leistes (now Sturnella) militaris, the red-breasted blackbird. This bird acts and looks like a meadowlark or bobolink who got dipped in red paint. It sits atop posts and makes quick stuttering flights above the grasstops, only to drop in before you get a good look at it. It is spectacular, even in a brief glimpse, which was all I got:
Another icterid which was nearly ubiquitous was the golden oriole. This lovely bird was constructing its sacklike nest in the botanic garden.
Everywhere we went, the golden orioles were busy weaving their egg-purses.
This one is just finishing up taking a poop. You probably liked the pose before I told you that.
Perhaps feeling abashed, he struck a better pose for me:Here I am, not pooping.

As gorgeous and glowing as it was, there was something very familiar about the yellow oriole--it favors our Bullock's oriole. My switchboard really lights up when I see a bird that looks nothing like anything we have in the States. Well, this burnished-buff tanager is shaped like a scarlet tanager, but the similarity ends there.
This pretty little tanager has the oddest color scheme--soft turquoise wings on an opalescent buff body. He tops it off with a black mask and a coppery crown.What a treat to see new birds, odd birds, any birds. Here's to birds! and how they enrich our lives.


Such beautiful, colorful birds. It is such a treat to see birds this bright this time of year. The orioles I see in your pictures look more yellow than the baltimore orioles I get in my yard.

I am new to birding so I had no idea that birds nestlings in the winter (even in South America).

Thanks for the opportunity to see so many unknown (to me) birds! I'm enjoying your trip! pfg

That Caciques must be spectacular in flight. If I were there, medication would be ordered for me. When I see an ordinary life bird, I get all excited, you see. It would be too much. I'd keel over to see a Golden Oriole poop. You handle all of this so well (wink).

Love that oriole -- looks like a giant prothonotary warbler in gothic black attire! :-))

Oh, those colors! And those nests! Wow. That is some craftsmanship. Thanks for taking us along this day Julie. :c)

I like the burnished-buff best!
Not that those brightly colored birdies aren't spectacular, but the subtleties of the browns and blues are lovely--a little treat for those who take the time to find them.

Enjoying this vicarious adventure--and no frizzy hair!!

Thanks for sharing these. I'm trying not to be jealous ;-) What wonderful opportunities you have and it's so great you take the time to let us mosey along with you...

You know, Nina, moderate to high humidity makes my hair go all Bozo on me. This place was SO HUMID (how humid was it?) that I looked like someone had just hosed me down the whole time. It took humid new places.

I'm really enjoying your tropic posts.
The weather is so blah.

verification was Flisesto - spanish sounding eh?

Hello Dear Julie:

That first bird that you depicted has spawned a little-known but very important game amongst native Guyanan pygmy tribes.

It is called: Hide and KaSeek.

No, really. I would know.

Al Skutch (using the blog of the ever gracious J. McCormac)

Wow, that oriole's a knockout!

And thanks for keeping us apprised of the English football scores! Oy!

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