The oropendola gets its name from the male’s mating behavior. It hangs upside down (like a pendulum), spreads its wings, and sings to females. Displaying males perform a deep bow while singing St-st-ee-ee-ee-EE-EE-EE-wooo or CreeeEEEoooooooooo. Both males and females make have a loud clack call.

What They Eat

Oropendolas are omnivorous, and feed on a variety of fruit, nectar, insects, spiders, and small vertebrates such as tree frogs. They forage for food mostly in the upper areas of trees.

Where They Live

These birds are found throughout South America’s Amazon River Basin. They prefer edges and clearings of tropical and sub-tropical forests. They may also be found in grasslands, savannahs, and marshes.

What They Do

Female oropendolas make one of the most unusual and unique nests in the bird world, up to 100 feet up from the ground. The nest is woven from grasses and palm frond fibers, and can measure 3-6 feet long. Despite the nest’s large size, it is suspended by only a few strands of grass. The female incubates two eggs, while the male protects the nest from predators such as snakes and monkeys. A colony may consist of 2-40 nests.

How They’re Doing

Crested oropendolas are listed as a species of least concern, although their overall population is slowly decreasing.

Where in the World

South America

Habitat

Tropical and subtropical forests

Conservation Status

conservationStatus_LC

Animal Facts

Length: Male average 18 inches, Female average 14.5 inches
Weight:Males average 10 ounces, Females 5.5 ounces
Lifespan: up to 20 years in Zoos

Taxonomic Category

Bird

Where at the Zoo

Tropics Trail

  • Crested oropendolas are a type of blackbird. Males are mainly black with bright yellow feathers in their tail. Their eyes have striking blue irises. Females are similar, but smaller and duller in color.
  • The oil from a crested oropendola’s preen gland gives this bird a distinctive musky smell.
  • The crested oropendola is also known as the cornbird in Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Crested oropendolas live in large flocks of up to 100 birds. During breeding season, the flock divides into smaller colonies.

Grey-winged trumpeter populations are decreasing due to deforestation and hunting. Forests of the Amazon River basin are being cleared for roads, cattle ranching, and crop production. The trumpeter’s poor ability to fly also leaves them prime targets for hunters.  Trumpeters are likewise commonly caught and kept as pets due to their natural “guard dog” like behavior.

Sherman, P.T., Kirwan, G.M. & Sharpe, C.J. (2014). Grey-winged Trumpeter (Psophia crepitans). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.) (2014). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from http://www.hbw.com/node/53566 on 27 July 2015).