Arrendajo Negro/Yellow-billed Cacique/Amblycercus holosericeus

Foto: Nick Athanas

Nombre en español: Arrendajo Negro

Nombre en inglés: Yellow-billed Cacique

Nombre científico: Amblycercus holosericeus

Familia: Icteridae

Canto: Ross Gallardy

El cacique piquiclaro (Amblycercus holosericeus),​ también conocido como arrendajo andino o cacique pico claro,​ es una especie de ave paseriforme de la familia Icteridae propia de América Central, México y el noroeste de Sudamérica.​ Es la única especie del género Amblycercus. Se distinguen tres subespecies reconocidas.

Distribución y hábitat

Es nativo de México, Guatemala, Belice, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panamá, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Perú, y Bolivia.​ Su hábitat natural se compone de bosque subtropical y tropical.


Se reconocen las siguientes subespecies, incluyendo la subespecie tipo.:3

  • Amblycercus holosericeus australis Chapman, 1919
  • Amblycercus holosericeus flavirostris Chapman, 1915
  • Amblycercus holosericeus holosericeus (Deppe, 1830)
Foto: Alejandro Cartagena

Yellow-billed cacique

The yellow-billed cacique (Amblycercus holosericeus) is a species of cacique in the family Icteridae. It is monotypic within the genus Amblycercus. There is some question as to whether or not it is a true cacique.

The plumage is entirely black. The legs and feet are dark gray. The eye is yellow or yellow-orange. The bill is yellow with a gray tinge. Measures 23 cm (9.1 in) long.

It is found in Belize, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela.

Three subspecies are known:

  • A. h. holosericeus – (Deppe, 1830): nominate, found from southeastern Mexico to northwestern Colombia
  • A. h. flavirostris – Chapman, 1915: found from western Colombia to northern Peru
  • A. h. australis – Chapman, 1919: found in northern Colombia and northwestern Venezuela to eastern Peru and northern Bolivia

Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical moist montane forests, and heavily degraded former forest.

The yellow-billed cacique feeds on insects and other invertebrates, as well as some fruit. It uses a pecking technique similar to that of a woodpecker to gain access to the interior of branches and bamboo. In some areas, this species is a bamboo specialist, while in other areas, it feeds from a variety of vegetation.

In the spring, the yellow-billed cacique builds a sturdy cup-shaped nest, which is unusual for its family, who tend to build hanging woven nests.[3]

The Yellow-billed Cacique is a unique icterid. It is not a cacique, in fact in the icterid family tree it lies on a branch all by itself at the base of the Cacique-Oropendola clade. That is to say, this is the oldest branch in the group, it is neither a cacique nor an oropendola, but is related to that group. The Yellow-billed Cacique is all black and has an ivory white bill that almost shines in the dark undstory habitats preferred by this species. It also has a long and broad tail that is often frayed at the ends, probably from sneaking through dense habitats. The bill itself shows a flattened culmen and the tip is chisel-like, also the nostrils are covered by a sheath for protection, in some ways the bill resembles that of a woodpecker and this is by no coincidence. This icterid feeds by pecking at twigs, branches and bamboo to get access to insects within. Interestingly in some parts of its range it is an absolute bamboo specialists, while in other areas it takes undergrowth but does not need bamboo. One of the bamboo loving populations is in the highlands of Costa Rica, the other in the highlands of South America, while some lowland intervening populations are not bamboo loving. This suggests that bamboo specialization may have arisen twice separately perhaps? Surprisingly given that this icterid is in the cacique-oropendola group, it makes a classic cup-shaped nest, not a hanging pendulous nest as the rest of the group does.

Fuentes: Wikipedia/eBird/xeno-canto/Neotropical Birds

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