Overview

Brief Summary

Introduction

The New World Blackbird clade (Icteridae) consists of 97 species in 27 genera, distributed throughout the western hemisphere. This clade has been of great interest to evolutionary biologists and behavioral ecologists because of the broad range of morphologies and behaviors exhibited. If the archetypical songbird species is monogamous, sexually monochromatic, monomorphic in size, territorial, breeds at age one year, builds a cup-shaped nest, and has a species-specific song, then the New World Blackbird clade contains not only "typical" song bird species, but also species demonstrating a wide range of interesting morphological and behavioral departures from this norm. Within the Icteridae, various species:

  • are polygynous,
  • are promiscuous,
  • are sexually dimorphic in coloration,
  • are sexually dimorphic in size,
  • are colonial nesters,
  • breed at age two years or older,
  • exhibit delayed plumage maturation,
  • build pendant nests,
  • nest in burrows,
  • are nest parasites,
  • are brood parasites, and
  • are vocal mimics.

This clade is the subject of an NSF funded "Assembling the Tree of Life" grant (DEB-0316092) to Keith Barker (University of Minnesota), Kevin Burns (San Diego State University), John Klicka (University of Nevada-Las Vegas), Scott Lanyon (University of Minnesota), and Irby Lovette (Cornell University). Our goal is to sequence multiple genes for every species of "nine-primaried oscine" and to construct a robust phylogeny from these data. This page will be updated once this research has been completed.

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Ecology

Associations

Known predators

Icteridae is prey of:
Lynx rufus
Canis latrans

Based on studies in:
USA: Arizona, Sonora Desert (Desert or dune)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • P. G. Howes, The Giant Cactus Forest and Its World: A Brief Biology of the Giant Cactus Forest of Our American Southwest (Duell, Sloan, and Pearce, New York; Little, Brown, Boston; 1954), from pp. 222-239, from p. 227.
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Known prey organisms

Icteridae preys on:
seeds of other plants
mistletoe
Orthoptera
Lepidoptera
Gryllidae
cactus weevils
Moneilema
Papilionoidea
Amazilia tzacatl

Based on studies in:
USA: Arizona, Sonora Desert (Desert or dune)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • P. G. Howes, The Giant Cactus Forest and Its World: A Brief Biology of the Giant Cactus Forest of Our American Southwest (Duell, Sloan, and Pearce, New York; Little, Brown, Boston; 1954), from pp. 222-239, from p. 227.
  • Myers, P., R. Espinosa, C. S. Parr, T. Jones, G. S. Hammond, and T. A. Dewey. 2006. The Animal Diversity Web (online). Accessed February 16, 2011 at http://animaldiversity.org. http://www.animaldiversity.org
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records: 769
Specimens with Sequences: 586
Specimens with Barcodes: 571
Species: 85
Species With Barcodes: 81
Public Records: 344
Public Species: 63
Public BINs: 60
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Barcode data

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Wikipedia

Icterid

Icterids make up a family (Icteridae) of small to medium-sized, often colorful passerine birds restricted to the New World. Most species have black as a predominant plumage color, often enlivened by yellow, orange or red. The family is extremely varied in size, shape, behavior and coloration. The name, meaning "jaundiced ones" (from the prominent yellow feathers of many species) comes from the Ancient Greek ikteros, through the Latin ictericus. This group includes the New World blackbirds, New World orioles, the bobolink, meadowlarks, grackles, cowbirds, oropendolas and caciques.

Despite the similar names, the first groups are only distantly related to the Old World common blackbird (a thrush) or the Old World orioles.

Characteristics[edit]

The majority of icterid species live in the tropics, although there are a number of temperate forms, such as American blackbirds and the long-tailed meadowlark. The highest densities of breeding species are found in Colombia and in southern Mexico.[1] They inhabit a range of habitats, including scrub, swamp, forest, and savanna.[2] Temperate species are migratory, with many species that nest in the United States and Canada moving south into Mexico and Central America.

Breeding male Brewer's blackbird apparently gaping (see text) in soil.

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, in which the female averages 15 cm in length (6 in) and 18 grams (0.6 oz) in weight, while the largest is the Amazonian oropendola, the male of which measures 52 cm (19 in) and weighs about 550 grams (1.2 lbs). This variation is greater than in any other passerine family (unless the kinglet calyptura belongs with the cotingas, which would then have greater variation[3]). One unusual morphological adaptation shared by the icterids is gaping, where the skull is configured to allow them open their bills strongly rather than passively, allowing them to force open gaps to obtain otherwise hidden food.

Icterids have adapted to taking a wide range of foods. Oropendolas and caciques use their gaping motion to open the skins of fruit to obtain the soft insides, and have long bills adapted to the process. Others such as cowbirds and the bobolink have shorter stubbier bills for crushing seeds. The Jamaican blackbird uses its bill to pry amongst tree bark and epiphytes, and has adopted the evolutionary niche filled elsewhere in the Neotropics by woodcreepers. Orioles will drink nectar.

The nesting habits of these birds are similarly variable, including pendulous woven nests in the oropendolas and orioles. Many icterids are colonial, nesting in colonies of up to 100,000 birds. Some cowbird species engage in brood parasitism: females lay their eggs in the nests of other species, in a similar fashion to some cuckoos.[2]

Some species of icterid have become agricultural pests, for example red-winged blackbirds in the United States are considered the worst vertebrate pest on some crops, such as rice.[4] The cost of controlling blackbirds in California was $30 per acre in 1994. Not all species have been as successful, and a number of species are threatened with extinction. These include insular forms such as the Jamaican blackbird, yellow-shouldered blackbird, and the St Lucia oriole, which are threatened by habitat loss.

Folklore[edit]

Cacique and oropendola species are called paucar or similar names in Peru.[5][6] It is said that as paucares are considered very intelligent, Indians feed the brains to their children to make them fast learners.[7] As the male plays no part in nesting and care of the young, a man who does not work may be called a "male paucar".[8]

Systematics[edit]

FAMILY ICTERIDAE

Prehistoric icterid genera that have been described from Pleistocene fossil remains are Pandanaris from Rancho La Brea and Pyelorhamphus from Shelter Cave.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lowther P (1975) "Geographic and Ecological Variation in the Family Icteridae" Wilson Bulletin 87 (4): 481-495
  2. ^ a b Parkes, Kenneth C. (1991), Forshaw, Joseph, ed., Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds, London: Merehurst Press, pp. 214–215, ISBN 1-85391-186-0 
  3. ^ Prum, Richard O.; Snow, David W. (2003), "Cotingas", in Christopher Perrins (Ed.), Firefly Encyclopedia of Birds, Firefly Books, pp. 432–433, ISBN 1-55297-777-3 
  4. ^ Dolbeer, R & S Ickes (1994) "Red-winged Blackbird feeding preferences and response to wild rice treated with Portland cement or plaster" Vertebrate Pest Conference Proceedings collection Proceedings of the Sixteenth Vertebrate Pest Conference (1994) (W.S. Halverson& A.C. Crabb, Eds.) Univ. of Calif.:Davis.
  5. ^ Manu Peru Manu - Aves, Enjoy Corporation S. A., 2007, retrieved 2007-09-28 
  6. ^ Muyuna Amazon Lodge, Iquitos - Peru, retrieved 2007-09-28 . Click the link to Fauna and scroll forward one page.
  7. ^ Moyobamba - Peru, 2007, retrieved 2007-09-28 . The source given is Moyobamba, apuntes turísticos y geográficos by Pedro Vargas Roja.
  8. ^ Aves en Soritor - Distrito de soritor Moyobamba - Alto Mayo - San Martín - Peru, 2006, retrieved 2007-09-28 
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New World blackbird

The New World blackbirds consist of 26 species of icterid birds that share the name blackbird but do not correspond with a formal taxon. The distributions of all species is limited to the Americas, and this group is distinct from the Eurasian Common Blackbird (Turdus merula) and related species.[1]

Species[edit]

The New World blackbird species:

Red-winged Blackbird, male
Yellow-headed Blackbird

References[edit]

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