Yellow-Rumped Cacique (Cacicus cela) An accomplished mimic.
These passerines have a mainly black plumage with a sharp yellow rump, yellow beak and startling sky-blue eyes. They are gregarious birds, most often seen in flocks.
After a heavy rainfall, they would gather on the low trees near the lodge, shake out and spread their black wings over the canopy and perch sociably together, chatting as they dried off and groomed their feathers.
They bred together in large colonies in trees, often over water. Their thickly woven nests hung from branches like huge teardrops. They also often nested near wasp nests, a protection for their eggs and chicks from predators such as Toucans, Aracaris and Botflies.
What I love about the Caciques is their mimicry. Just before dusk one day I was winding up my torch ready for nightfall. When I stopped for a moment, the sound continued. I looked at the torch lying still and silent in my hand and frowned. Then it dawned on me what it was….a Yellow-Rumped Cacique, perfectly imitating the winding sound.
Another time when I had been alone in the forest for a week, I heard the sound of a human cough within the surrounding forest. It made my hair stand on end. I searched the thick undergrowth for the culprit, until again I noticed a cacique close by and realised it had copied me.
Caciques have the ability to mimic almost anything, as varied as; the songs of other birds, mobile phones, dog barks, human laughter and even mechanical tree-saws.