Melodious blackbird

Dives dives

TAXONOMY

Icterus dives W. Deppe, 1830, Oaxaca, Mexico. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Scrub blackbird; French: Quiscale chanteur; German: Trauerstarling, Buschstarling; Spanish: Tordo Cantor.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

9-11.5 in (23-29 cm); 2.9-3.6 oz (83.5-102 g); females somewhat smaller than males. Sexes similar in color. Entirely black, showing slight iridescence, with a black eye, and moderately long tail. Juveniles are brownish black, and lack iridescence.

DISTRIBUTION

Resident from central Mexico south to northern Costa Rica. HABITAT

Tropical lowland forests, secondary forests, pine forests, edge, and settled areas, from sea level to 6,600 ft (2,000 m).

BEHAVIOR

Pairs are territorial, and individuals of both sexes defend their territories with songs and displays (tail-flicking and a fluttering

"bill-up" flight). In winter, pairs may gather into small groups, flocking sometimes with grackles and cowbirds. Sometimes roosts in dense cane with other blackbirds.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Forages mainly on the ground, commonly on lawns and other cleared areas. When foraging in trees, they pick insects and larvae from foliage, and drink nectar from flowers. Their diet consists of seeds, fruits, nectar, and invertebrates (especially insects).

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Monogamous. The nest is an open cup placed in a bush or tree; both sexes assist in building the nest. Three to four eggs are laid in April-July. Incubation about 14 days; information on fledging not available. Single brooded.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened. Common, and expanding its range southward into the Pacific slope of Guatemala, El Salvador, and northern Costa Rica, probably as a consequence of clearing of land for agriculture.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

They eat the ripening ears of maize, and are considered to be agricultural pests. ♦

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