Swoop In to See the New Yellow-Rumped Caciques

Posted Date

November 29, 2023


Animal Updates, In The News

The Milwaukee County Zoo is excited to announce a new species has “flown” into the Herb and Nada Mahler Family Aviary — a male and female yellow-rumped cacique (“ka – seek”). The birds, native to northern South America, arrived from the Fresno Chaffee Zoo and reside in the Aviary’s East Flight habitat.

The birds transferred to MCZ on a breeding recommendation from the Species Survival Plan® (SSP). (The Zoo’s member organization, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), oversees the SSP® to ensure genetic diversity across all zoo and aquarium populations.)

Yellow-rumped caciques have a vibrantly colored appearance, with mostly black bodies and bright yellow rumps, undertail, and wing patches. They also have blue eyes. The birds are omnivores and eat a diet of fruits and insects. Adaptations unique to the species include a variety of calls from the male yellow-rumped caciques, which may even mimic other birds when they sing to the females.

Zookeepers at MCZ comment the new birds have already started building a very impressive nest over one of the ponds in the East Flight habitat. Yellow-rumped caciques build hanging-pouch nests. Keepers say the birds “got right to it, just days after arriving” by taking off strips from the palm fronds to construct the nest. They have also added some new and unique vocalizations to the Free Flight habitat.

Fast Facts:

  • Yellow-rumped caciques are considered an “edge” species, preferring to live along the forest borders near open areas such as fields and lakes.
  • Yellow-rumped caciques’ songs are very important because they’re specific to individual colonies. Males use songs to attract females and defend territories.
  • Male dominance is measured by size and counter-singing. Competing males use songs to establish dominance. They match each other’s songs until one loses.


Be sure to see the new yellow-rumped caciques in the Aviary during your visit. With their boldly colored appearance, they should be easy to spot!


For faster entry: Members and pre-ticketed guests, park at West End (enter at 106th St).