The Montezuma Oropendola

A week or so ago, Jocelyn discussed the Montezuma Oropendola’s song as heard on Xandari property in Costa Rica. As you could hear from the linked vocalizations in her post, the bird makes an incredibly strange, gurgling/bubbling sound, recently described by a Xandari guest as “the sound of pouring water from one jug into another.” James and I have put up photos of the oropendola as Bird of the Day posts before, but I realized after reading Jocelyn’s thoughts on the bird that we haven’t featured any video of this common resident species at Xandari in the past. So I went out with my camera this weekend and was lucky enough to capture a minute of behavior footage to share here. The main thing missing is what the male often looks like when he’s vocalizing: perched on a branch, he typically leans forward as he calls, bending down so far that it appears he might suddenly fall off. At the end of his call he swings back up, and starts the process again.

Although the Montezuma Oropendola is a species commonly seen (or at least heard) from Xandari on most days, they don’t appear to have any nests on property. And you’d notice if they did, because they live in colonies with magnificent hanging (or pendent) woven nests, as you can see in the photo below (check out an old post on woven nests here).

A photo I took of an oropendola colony at Las Isletas, Lago Nicaragua, NI in 2011.

Apart from their bizarre, impossible-to-replicate call, my favorite thing about the Montezuma Oropendola is its facial and bill coloration, which reminds me of a mime and candy corn. People also enjoy the brilliant yellow in their tail feathers. Overall, they’re easily one of the more charismatic bird species at Xandari, and one that I always hope guests will experience during their stay here!

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