Guayabitos Flasher

Be on the Lookout for the Guayabitos Flasher1111

                   © Tara A. Spears      

It’s such a pleasure to stroll around the Guayabitos residential neighborhood enjoying the fabulous December weather while admiring the lovely homes. A quick movement, a glint of gold in the cobalt sky, streaks by. Hmmm, the birds that landed in the near trees are black, guess I imagined it. But no, the birds take flight, and sure enough, a brilliant yellow tail and underside. Meet the flashy tropic member of the North American blackbird family, the Oropendola. (oro is Spanish for gold) These energetic medium sized birds have several unique features besides their vivid coloration: charming songs and weird nests of fibers and woven vines at the end of a branch that sway in the breeze.  

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According to my field guides and online research, the oropendolas make up three genera of South and Central American passerine birds in the New World blackbird family. Passerine is the scientific designation for perching songbirds. Another characteristic of passerines is that they have a specially adapted foot with three toes pointing forward, and one toe directed backwards to enable them to perch on vertical surfaces such as trees and cliffs. All types of oropendolas have pointed bills and long tails that are always at least partially bright yellow. The males are larger and a different color that the females. They are social and tend to gather in flocks: I have undeveloped land on three sides of my house which is appealing to these birds. I have both flocks and nests on all sides. I enjoy being flashed and serenaded while sipping my morning coffee on the patio.

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The favored habitat of the Oropendolas is forest or open woodlands, such as edging a highway or field like the undeveloped parts of Jaltemba Bay. This species is very vocal, with a wide range of songs and even mimicry: whistle a tune and they will respond with a similar tone. These gregarious birds eat large insects, seeds, grain, fruit, and nectar.

Each colony has a dominant male, which mates with most of the females in the flock following an elaborate bowing display. The female lays two dark-spotted white or buff colored eggs which will hatch in about 15 days. The babies mature and fledge in about four weeks. Young birds are much duller body color and bill. Outside of the breeding season, Oropendolas are mobile and follow some seasonal movement. They are still very active in my area.     

Whether you are enjoying the sunset or just relaxing on your patio, keep a lookout for the delightful Oropendola – great Riviera Nayarit neighbors.

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