Olive Oropendola Psarocolius bifasciatus Scientific name definitions

Harold F. Greeney
Version: 2.0 — Published June 10, 2022


Systematics History

The taxonomic limits within the large oropendola species, particularly at a generic level, have been unstable during the past century. Olive Oropendola was formerly placed in the genus Gymnostinops (16, 21, 22). Blake (23), however, merged Gymnostinops, along with Clypicterus and Ocyalus, into an expanded Psarocolius, a merger that was supported by later genetic studies (24, 25), and most recent authors have followed the elimination of Gymnostinops.

Subspecies yuracares (with neivae) was formerly recognized as a separate species from bifasciatus (16, 26, 27, 28, 23). Following the suggestion of Meyer de Schauensee (29), Haffer (30) argued that they should perhaps be considered conspecific, based in part on the hybrid appearance of the neivae (31), occurring in the potential region of overlap of bifasciatus and yuracares (See Systematic History for ssp. neivae). This treatment, followed here (32), was adopted by some authors (33, 21), but not by all (2, 34, 35).

Geographic Variation

As noted by early authors (36, 16, 15), irrespective of locality or the taxon involved, there is a fair amount of individual plumage variability in the Olive Oropendola. This intra-population plumage variation largely involves some of the characters used to recognized subspecies, notably the overall greenish vs. yellowish plumage and the color and shade of the foreparts (36, 15; see below). Such variation tends to blur the lines between the subspecies, particularly within the intermediate population (neivae), which may turn out to be a hybrid phenotype between yuracares and bifasciatus (30). See Systematic History. Otherwise, following currently accepted racial distribution, the wide-spread yuracares has the foreparts pale ochre-yellow with the rearparts and wings bright chestnut and the tail predominantly yellow. Nominate bifasciatus, with no known overlap (but see above) is rather different, with dark, brownish-black foreparts replacing the ochre yellow of yuracares (33). In neivae, the foreparts are intermediate in hue, tending towards yuracares in the west of its range and towards bifasciatus in the east.



Olive Oropendola (Amazonian) Psarocolius bifasciatus yuracares/neivae


Psarocolius bifasciatus yuracares Scientific name definitions

Systematics History

Psarocolius bifasciatus yuracares (Lafresnaye and d'Orbigny, 1838)

Cassicus yuracares Lafresnaye and d'Orbigny, 1838, Magasin de Zoologie, vol. 8, cl. 2, p. 2. Named after the type locality, Yuracares, Chapare, Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Two taxa have been described and subsequently sunk into synonymy with P. b. yuracares (see 36, 16, 15, 27).

1) Gymnostinops yuracares caurensis Todd, 1913, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, vol. 26, p. 170. Another taxon named for the type locality, Río Mocho, Río Caura, Venezuela, the holotype is and adult male (CM 32375) housed in the collection of the Carnegie Museum (37).

2) Cassicus devillii Bonaparte, 1850, Conspectus generum avium, p. 427. Described from “Barra do Rio Negro” (= Manaus) (38), this taxon was later recognized to be a female specimen of yuracares (39, 15).


Subspecies yuracares is the most widespread of the three subspecies (30, 33). It is found from the upper Amazon and Orinoco river basins (40), from southern Venezuela in Amazonas (41, 42, 43) and Bolívar (11, 44, 45), southward into Brazil and eastern Colombia. In Colombia, it is reported from Meta (46, 47, 7, 48), Vaupés (49, 50, 51), Guainía (52), Villavicencio (53), eastern Cauca (54, 55, 56), Caquetá (46, 7), and Putumayo (46, 50). Southward through the western Amazon, it is found in eastern Ecuador (9, 57, 58, 59, 60) and eastern Peru (61), southward as far as central Bolivia (62, 15,63, 64, 5). In Brazil, it occurs eastward from western Amazonas, Acre (65, 66, 67), and Rondônia (68, 69). North of the Amazon it is found as far as the right bank of the Rio Negro (70, 71, 72, 73), and on the south side it reaches the left bank of the Rio Tapajós in eastern Amazonas (74), western Pará, and western Matto Grosso (75, 76).

Identification Summary

Jaramillo and Burke (2) provide a nice detailed description of adult male definitive basic plumage as follows:

“The bill is black with an orange-red terminal third; the culmen spreads to an obvious frontal shield (casque). Eye color is brown. It shows a bare face patch, and also a bare patch at the base of the culmen, both of which are pink. The head, upper back, neck, breast and upper belly are vivid yellow olive. The green of the face and base of culmen is a darker olive than that of the neck or breast. A wispy crest of four feathers is present, but is not always visible in the field. The crest feathers are approximately 7 cm long. There is an abrupt transition between the green of the head and the dark chestnut of the rest of the body. The lower back, rump, belly, flanks, thighs, vent, crissum and wings are chestnut. The primaries are blackish, w ith chestnut outer edges, thus appearing chestnut when the wing is folded. The underwings are blackish with chestnut linings. Tail yellow with olive central rectrices (Rl ); these central tail feathers are slightly shorter than the longest yellow rectrices. The legs and feet are black.”


Psarocolius bifasciatus neivae Scientific name definitions

Systematics History

Psarocolius bifasciatus neivae (Snethlage, 1925)

Gymnostinops neivae Snethlage, 1925, Journal für Ornithologie, vol. 73, p. 265. The holotype is an adult male, collected by Snethlage on 1 July 1914 on a river island in the Rio Irirí.

Due to the somewhat intermediate appearance of neivae, combining characters of both bifasciatus and yuracares (31), Haffer (30) suggested that subspecies neivae might represent a hybrid swarm between yuracares and bifasciatus. The plumage similarities between yuracares and neivae led Gyldenstolpe (14) to consider birds on the left bank of the lower Rio Tapajós to represent neivae, an assertion that has apparently been overlooked or ignored in future works, all of which considered the neivae to be restricted to the right bank of the Rio Tapajós (2, 35, 77). The possibility that neivae is a hybrid form has subsequently been acknowledged by other authors who, nevertheless, recognized neivae as a valid taxon and separated yuracares as a species distinct from bifasciatus (2, 4, 35).


Subspecies neivae has a relatively small range in east-central Brazil, where it bridges the gap between the distributions of the other two subspecies. Its range is considered to extend from southern Pará, south of the Amazon and between the Rio Tapajós and Rio Tocantins (6, 31, 26), eastward into northern Tocantins (78), and southward to northern Goiás (77) and north eastern Mato Grosso (79).

Identification Summary

Most similar to subspecies yuracares. Subspecies neivae is darker overall, lacking the yellow hue on the foreparts, with the crown deep olive green with blackish crest feathers and the sides of the head and neck darker olive. The green of the throat, breast, and upper back are also darker than yuracares, less tinged with yellow (6, 16).


Olive Oropendola (Para) Psarocolius bifasciatus bifasciatus Scientific name definitions

Systematics History

Psarocolius bifasciatus bifasciatus (Spix, 1824)

Cassicus bifasciatus Spix, 1824, Avium species novae, quas in itinere annis MDCCCXVII-MDCCCXX per Brasiliam. Tomus I, p. 65 (pl. 61). The type locality was originally given as "in sylvis prope Maranhaô et Param" (80), and was later restricted to the vicinity of Belém (Pará, Brazil) by Pinto (26).


The nominate subspecies is apparently the most range-restricted subspecies, restricted to the Belem center of endemism, south of the Amazon and eastward from the right bank of the Rio Tocantins (6, 26, 81, 82) in eastern Pará (1, 8, 83, 84) and western Maranhão (85, 86, 2).

Identification Summary

Adult males of the nominate subspecies are large, generally black-and-chestnut colored oropendolas, with a dark hood. The dark coloration of the foreparts blends into rich chestnut on back, rump, wings, flanks, and crissum. The crown bears a few thin, elongated feathers that form a thin black crest. The tail is mostly yellow, with the central pair of rectrices dusky brown. The bill is black with a red tip that extends to nearly half the length of the bill, with a naked, pink facial patch. The facial patch extends back to the hind edge of the eye and continues as a thin pink border to the bottom and rear of the eye. The plumage is similar to that of the yuracares subspecies, only darker.

Related Species

Meyer de Schauensee (87) and Ridgely & Tudor (33) suggested that Black Oropendola (Psarocolius guatimozinus), Baudo Oropendola (Psarocolius cassini), and Psarocolius bifasciatus could be merged into a single species. Evidence for maintaining them as separate species is considered weak by some authors (88). There are; however, multiple lines of evidence that suggest that they form a superspecies, along with Middle American Montezuma Oropendola (Psarocolius montezuma) (29. 89, 21). Subsequent analyses of vocal, behavioral, and molecular data (24, 90, 91) have also recovered a close relationship between Green Oropendola (Psarocolius viridis), Psarocolius montezuma, and Psarocolius bifasciatus, the three of which form a monophyletic group (25).


Psarocolius bifasciatus yuracares

ASHÁNINKA: Pooña (92). ENGLISH: Amazonian Oropendola – Arribas et al. (93), Cadena et al. (48). NANTI: paroNpe (94). PORTUGUESE: Japó – Schubart et al. (95); Japuaçu – Guilherme (96), Whittaker (97), Mestre et al. (98). SPANISH: Conoto de Pico Encarnado – Phelps and Phelps (27); Oropéndola Oliva – Ridgely and Greenfield (34), Stiles (51); Oropéndola Olivácea – Schulenberg et al. (99), Alonso et al. (100).

  • Cassicus devilliiBonaparte (101).
  • Cassicus yuracaresd'Orbigny and de Lafresnaye (102)[desc.], von Tschudi (103,12), Bonaparte (101).
  • Cassicus yuracarium – Cassin (1).
  • Gymnostinops bifasciatus – Clayton et al. (104), Cadena et al. (48), Clements and Shany (105), Rasmussen et al. (106).
  • Gymnostinops bifasciatus yuracares – Price and Lanyon (90,91).
  • Gymnostinops yuracares – Allen (107), von Berlepsch and Hartert (108), von Ihering (109), von Ihering and von Ihering (110)[in part], Chapman (36), Laubmann (62), Meyer de Schauensee (50), O'Neill and Pearson (111), Willis (76), Novaes and Lima (112), Parker et al. (113), Servat (114), Salaman and Donegan (115), Salaman et al. (54, 55).
  • Gymnostinops yuracares caurensis – Todd (37)[desc.], Cherrie (40).
  • Gymnostinops yuracares subsp. – Dugand (46), Schubart et al. (95).
  • Gymnostinops yuracares yuracares – Hellmayr (16), Pinto (26), Gyldenstolpe (14, 15), Phelps and Phelps (27), Pinto and Camargo (65), Olivares (116), Olivares and Hernández (49).
  • Gymnostinops yuracarium – Sclater (117)[in part], Goeldi (118), von Berlepsch and Sztolcman (119), Snethlage (120, 6).
  • Gymnostinops yurucares [sic] – Robbins et al. (121).
  • Ostinops devillii – Sclater (38).
  • Ostinops yuracarium – Sclater (38), Sclater and Salvin (122, 123, 124, 125), von Pelzeln (10)[in part], Sclater (39)[in part], Taczanowski (13).
  • Psaracolius yuracares [sic] – Willard et al. (41).
  • Psarcolius yuracares [sic] – Bates et al. (18).
  • Psarocolius bifasciatus – Parker et al. (126), Arribas et al. (93), Remsen and Parker (127), Canaday (128), Bates et al. (129), Alverson et al. (130), Borges and Carvalhães (70), Schulenberg et al. (131), Acheson and Davis (132), Borges et al. (133, 73), Canaday and Rivadeneyra (134), Montambault (135), O'Shea et al. (136), Stotz et al. (137, 138), Lane and Pequeño (139), Vriesendorp et al. (140), MacLeod et al. (63), Milensky et al. (141), Naka et al. (142), Walker et al. (143), Aleixo and Poletto (68), Blake (57), Cohn-Haft et al. (144), Felton et al. (145), Guilherme (96), Lebbin (146), Maillard-Z. et al. (64), Stotz and Alván (147, 148), Ayerbe-Quiñones et al. (56), Guilherme and Santos (149), Hosner et al. (150), Whittaker (97), Aleixo and Guilherme (151), Jankowski (152), Mestre et al. (98), Vidoz et al. (153), Borges and Almeida (72), Dantas et al. (74), Guilherme and Dantas (154), Santos et al. (155), Alonso et al. (100), Jankowski et al. (156), Harvey et al. (157), Laranjeiras et al. (158), Samuels et al. (45), Stiles and Becker (52), Avendaño et al. (159, 53), Kvarnbäck and Bosque (43), Lima et al. (160).
  • Psarocolius yuracares – Haffer (82), Terborgh et al. (161, 19), Parker et al. (162, 163), Parker and Wust (164), Stotz et al. (165), Zimmer and Hilty (42), Angehr et al. (166), Schulenberg et al. (99), Greeney and Gelis (58), Crease (44), Ridgely and Tudor (4)[in part], Stiles (51), Piedrahita et al. (59), Xiao et al. (167)[in part].
  • Psarocolius yuracares yuracares – Blake (23), Howard and Moore (168), Jaramilo and Burke (2), Ridgely and Greenfield (34), Hilty (3), Fraga (77).
  • Psarocolius yuracarium – Salvadori and Festa (9).

Psarocolius bifasciatus neivae

ENGLISH: Neiva's Oropendola – Hellmayr (16). PORTUGUESE: Japu de bico encarnado – Schubart et al. (95), Gwynne et al. (169); japuaçu – Dornas and Pinhiero (78).

  • Gymnostinops bifasciatus – Novaes and Lima (112).
  • Gymnostinops bifasciatus neivae – Price and Lanyon (90,91).
  • Gymnostinops neivae – Snethlage (6)[desc.], Griscom and Greenway (31).
  • Gymnostinops yuracares – von Ihering and von Ihering (110)[in part], Schubart et al. (95).
  • Gymnostinops yuracarium – Sclater (117)[in part], Riker and Chapman (170).
  • Ostinops yuracarium – von Pelzeln (10)[in part], Allen (1876), Sclater (39)[in part].
  • Psarocolius bifasciatus – Zimmer et al. (79), Henriques et al. (171), Pacheco et al. (172), Lees et al. (173, 174, 175), Fávaro and Flores (176), Dornas and Pinheiro (78), Somenzari et al. (177), Santos et al. (155).
  • Psarocolius yuracares – Oren and Parker (178), Ridgely and Tudor (4)[in part], Gwynne et al. (169).
  • Psarocolius yuracares neivae – Blake (23), Howard and Moore (168), Nores (179), Jaramillo and Burke (2), Fraga (77).

Psarocolius bifasciatus bifasciatus

ENGLISH: Para Oropendola – Howard and Moore (168), Jaramillo and Burke (2), Ridgely and Tudor (4), Fraga (180); Spix's Oropendola – Hellmayr (16). PORTUGUESE: japuaçu – Oren (86); Japú-assú – Goeldi (118), Pinto (26); Japú-preto – Pinto (26).

  • Cassicus bifasciatus – Spix (80)[desc.], Bonaparte (101), Cassin (1).
  • Gymnostinops bifasciatus – Sclater (117), Goeldi (118), Hellmayr (17, 8, 16), von Ihering and von Ihering (110), Snethlage (6), Griscom and Greenway (31), Pinto (26), Graves and Zusi (20).
  • Ostinops bifasciatus – von Pelzeln (10).
  • Psarocolius bifasciatus – Blake (23), Howard and Moore (168), Oren (86), Jaramillo and Burke (2), Lees et al. (83), Ridgely and Tudor (4), Fraga (180), Fecchio et al. (181).

Recommended Citation

Greeney, H. F. (2022). Olive Oropendola (Psarocolius bifasciatus), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (B. K. Keeney, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.olioro1.02