Yellowhooded blackbird

Agelaius icterocephalus

TAXONOMY

Oriolus icterocephalus Linnaeus, 1766, Cayenne. Two geographically distinct forms are recognized.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Carouge a capuchon; German: Gelbkopfstarling; Spanish: Turpial de Agua.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

6.5-7 in (17-18 cm); female 0.8-1.1 oz (24-31 g), male 1.1-1.4 oz (31.5-40 g). Sexually dimorphic in color. Males are black with a yellow hood and black around the bill. Females are grayish olive above, and have a brownish belly, flecked with black, and a dusky yellow hood, with the yellow on the throat and the stripe over the eye brighter.

DISTRIBUTION

Resident of northern South America and along the Amazon River, from northern Colombia to central Brazil, east to northeastern Peru.

HABITAT

Freshwater marshes and tall, wet grasslands. Although characteristically a bird of the lowlands, they are found to about 8,500 ft (2,600 m) in the Andes of Colombia.

BEHAVIOR

Territorial during the breeding season. Males display to other males using a "song-spread" display, much like that of the North American red-winged blackbird. Males approach females with a distinctive fluttering flight; receptive females follow males to nests constructed by the males. During all seasons they are commonly seen in small loose flocks; large numbers may congregate in roosts. During the breeding season, males form colonies in marshes and start building nests.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Yellow-hooded blackbirds feed in marshes or in pastures, where they eat seeds and capture invertebrates.

Agelaius icterocephalus I Resident

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Successful males mate with up to five different females in a single season. Males build a nest in emergent aquatic vegetation; the female adds the lining to the nest after the pair is formed. Mated males stay with their mate until incubation begins, then they build another nest and seek an additional mate. Generally 2-3 eggs are laid in May-October in Trinidad and October-November in Venezuela. Incubation 10-11 days; young fledge at about 11 days.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened. They are locally common.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

They commonly forage in rice paddies and other agricultural lands, and cause some crop damage. ♦

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