Blackbirds, Orioles (Family Icteridae)
The Icterids are a group of small to medium-sized, often colourful
passerine birds restricted to the New World. Most species have black
as a predominant plumage colour, often enlivened by yellow, orange or
red. The name, meaning "jaundiced ones" (from the prominent yellow
feathers of many species) comes from the Ancient Greek. This group
includes the New World blackbirds, New World orioles, the bobolink,
meadowlarks, grackles, cowbirds, oropendolas and caciques.
The majority of icterid species live in the tropics, although there are a
number of temperate forms, such as American blackbirds and the
longtailed meadowlark. The highest densities of breeding species are
found in Colombia and in southern Mexico. They inhabit a range of
habitats, including scrub, swamp, forest, and savannah. Temperate
species are migratory, with many species that nest in the United States
and Canada moving south into Mexico and Central America.
Icterids are variable in size, and often display considerable sexual
dimorphism. For example, the male great-tailed grackle is 60% heavier
than the female. The smallest icterid species is the orchard oriole at
15 cm in length and 18 grams in weight, while the largest is the olive
oropendola, at 52 cm and 445 grams.
Crooked Run Valley