By Petr Myska ● February 2013
There are certainly many reasons why I like caciques. For their beautiful and varied songs, their elegance and nest-building capabilities and their pre-mating displays, just to mention a few. Another reason, which bird-watching beginners might also appreciate, is the fact, that in our area, it is impossible to confuse a Yellow-winged Cacique with any other bird, resident or migratory.
If you come to see a black bird with strikingly yellow stripes in wings and tail, there is no mistake. Yes, there are other birds roughly the same size, mostly or entirely black inhabiting the same habitat, but none of them shows the same color pattern. To be precise, our bird is black overall, with the exception of wing patch, rump, under tail coverts and outer part of the tail, which, as I mentioned above, are bright yellow.
There is very little sexual dimorphism. Both sexes are roughly the same size; males are jet black and females just a little duller, rather smoky brown.
Caciques are endemic to Pacific Slope and can be found in forests and greener suburbs throughout the bay area. They are social species and usually can be spotted traveling and foraging in groups, sometimes associated with other birds, especially San Blas Jays (Cyanocorax sanblasianus). The jays being quite a bit larger and much bolder than caciques tend to spook insects from their hideaways, which might benefit caciques, who follow closely behind and pick items overlooked by jays.
Caciques, just as many other Icterid species, construct elaborated suspended nests woven from long plant fibers. These large structures are places high in the canopy, at the end of a branch, where they cannot be reached easily by tree-climbing predators. Two to four pale blue eggs mottled with black and gray are laid at the bottom of the nest in a cup-like chamber.