Family New World Blackbirds (Icteridae)

Least Concern

Chestnut-headed Oropendola (Psarocolius wagleri)


French: Cassique à tête brune German: Rotkopf-Stirnvogel Spanish: Cacique cabecicastaño

C[acicus]. Wagleri

G. R. Gray

, 1844,

no locality = Guatemala


Formerly placed in a monotypic genus Zarhynchus because of its peculiar bill shape; recent genetic analysis indicates, however, that it belongs to a clade containing the “Andean oropendolas” (P. atrovirens and montane races of P. angustifrons). Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. w. wagleri (G. R. Gray, 1844) – Atlantic slope from SE Mexico (Veracruz and N Oaxaca) S to Honduras and NE Nicaragua.
  • P. w. ridgwayi (van Rossem, 1934) – E Nicaragua S to W Colombia (E to Serranía de San Lucas) and SW Ecuador (Manabí, rarely to El Oro).
  • Descriptive notes

    Male average 35 cm, 214 g; female average 28 cm, 113 g. Slightly crested. Male nominate race has dark purplish-chestnut on head and down to central breast; body and wing... read more


    Song short, but variable, consists of low “pop” sounds followed by harsh, crashing... read more


    Prefers forests, but often found in clearings and edges. In Costa Rica more common in foothills... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small vertebrates (frogs and lizards), also insects and other arthropods; also fruit and nectar of large flowers, e.g. of balsa.... read more


    Season Jan–Jun. Polygynous. Colonial, with 15–60 (exceptionally 130) nests per colony, often located on several isolated trees... read more


    Short-distance seasonal and altitudinal movements, probably related to availability of fruiting... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common to uncommon. Found in several protected areas, including Braulio Carrillo and Tapantí National Parks (Costa Rica), Soberanía National... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fraga, R. (2019). Chestnut-headed Oropendola (Psarocolius wagleri). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 16 December 2019).