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BirdNote: “The Golden Pendulum”: Montezuma Oropendola

Air Date: Week of

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BIRDNOTE: “THE GOLDEN PENDULUM”: MONTEZUMA OROPENDOLA: The unusual gurgling song and firecracker pop of the Montezuma Oropendola accompanies an acrobatic show of its golden feathers. BirdNote’s Michael Stein says the Central American bird’s trick of hanging upside down is the source of its Spanish name, “Oropendola,” or "golden pendulum."


CURWOOD: To those of us who live in temperate climes, some tropical birds seem particularly unusual and exotic. Michael Stein introduces us to one of them in today’s BirdNote – the Golden Pendulum.



The Golden Pendulum – Montezuma Oropendola

STEIN: On a winter morning in the Central American tropics, the sun rises…

[Montezuma Oropendola song]

In a clearing, surrounded by dense forest, stand the ruins of a Mayan city.

And on the warming air, floats an intriguing song…

[Montezuma Oropendola song, repeated, without firecracker notes]

Perched beside its nest is the author of those gurgling tones. A Montezuma Oropendola. He sings again, this time with a sound like the pop of firecrackers.

[Montezuma Oropendola song, with firecracker notes]

The 20-inch-tall male Montezuma Oropendola is feathered in rich chestnut brown. He's an oversized cousin of orioles, wielding a sharp spike of a bill tipped in red. As his song display begins, he grasps a branch in his feet, bows forward and then hangs completely upside down, wings fluttering. His long tail becomes clearly visible, bright yellow, pointing upwards.

Our Oropendola's now suspended head downward, swinging by his feet, singing.

His tail describes a golden pendulum – the source of his name in Spanish – oropendola.

[Montezuma Oropendola song, with firecracker notes]

I’m Michael Stein.

Written by Bob Sundstrom
Call of the Montezuma Oropendola provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by C. Duncan.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2005-2017 Tune In to Nature.org March 2017 Narrator: Michael Stein


CURWOOD: And you can see pictures of this remarkably tuneful bird at our website LOE.org.



Listen on the BirdNote website

Watch the unusual display of the Montezuma Oropendola

More about the Montezuma Oropendola from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology


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