Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bird of the Month: Yellow-hooded Blackbird

The Yellow-hooded Blackbird (Chrysomus icterocephalus) is an attractive icterid inhabitant of grassy and marshy habitats from eastern Panama to northern South America.  Its expansion to Panama is relatively recent, and now is widely accepted as resident, so its occurrence status for North America was changed in accordance by the American Ornithologists' Union (previously known for the area by an old specimen from Barbados).
My first encounter with this species was many years ago in a seaside marsh of Lima, Peru, where an introduced population exists.  Since then, I have seen this species in other two south american countries, including the individual pictured in the next photo from a ranch in eastern Venezuela.
During my last incursion to eastern Panama, we all were impressed by the numbers of Yellow-hooded Blackbirds found in a single marshy patch by the road.  Several males were singing and in full courtship display.
We were able to see the females as well, exhibiting sexual dimorphism; however, she is quite distinctive.
For these, and many others reasons is why we chose the Yellow-hooded Blackbird as our bird of the month!
Literature consulted
1.  Angehr G, Dean R.  The birds of Panama. A field guide. 2010.
2.  AOU's 52nd supplement to the checklist of North American birds. 2011


  1. Thanks to your site, I have just been able to identify a large flock of yellow hooded blackbirds in the trees on the north side of the Bay of Portobello, near the yellow house. Portobello, Panama.

    1. Vicki: nice to know that! The Yellow-hooded Blackbird is a rare bird in Panama, probably expanding its range into central Panama... every report of this species is very important. You need to take into consideration that other (rare) similar species can occur in Panama, like the Yellow-headed Blackbird... so careful observations are required, or photographs.