Hanging nests of the Montezuma Oropendola
The Montezuma Oropendola inhabits forest canopy, edges and old plantations. It is a colonial breeder which builds a hanging woven nest of fibres and vines, 60–180 cm (24–71 in) long, high in a tree. Each colony has a dominant male, which mates with most of the females following an elaborate bowing display. The female lays two dark-spotted white or buff eggs which hatch in 15 days; the young fledge in 30. There are typically about 30 nests in a colony, but up to 172 have been recorded.
The Montezuma Oropendola (Psarocolius montezuma) is a New World tropical icterid bird. It is a resident breeder in the Caribbean coastal lowlands from southeastern Mexico to central Panama, but is absent from El Salvador and southern Guatemala. It also occurs on the Pacific slope of Nicaragua and Honduras and northwestern Costa Rica. It is among the oropendola species sometimes separated in the genus Gymnostinops. The English and scientific names of this species commemorate the Aztec emperor Moctezuma II.
The sexes are very different in size; the male is 50 cm (20 in) long and weighs 520 g (18 oz); the smaller female is 38 cm (15 in) long and weighs 230 g (8.1 oz).
Adult males are mainly chestnut with a blackish head and rump, and a tail which is bright yellow apart from two dark central feathers. There is a bare blue cheek patch and a pink wattle, the iris is brown, and the long bill is black at the base with a red tip. Females are similar, but smaller than males with a smaller wattle. Young birds are duller than adults and have a paler and less demarcated bill.
This photo by Roni Martinez
Chesnut-headed Oropendolas, build nests in a tight community like many Oropendola species. Ever wondered how strong these are and what they use as construction material? Well, often, the base of the nest, which is attached to a branch, is made with a combination of sturdy Passiflora vines and long palm leaflets which can accommodate for repeated swinging resistance. The rest of the nest can be a mix of Bromeliad leaves, palm fibers, small lianas and straps of flexible bark. These nests are so strong, that by the next nesting season, only repairs and reinforcements need to be done. Above photo was taken at Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary.
Photograph courtesy Portofino Resort
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