Both sexes are similar. The female is smaller and duller than male.
The juvenile resembles adults, with brown tinge on the underparts and wing coverts, and less glossy plumage.

The Bolivian Blackbird is found in Bolivia where it has restricted range. It occurs in C Bolivia, mostly in Cochabamba, Potosí and Chuquisaca, and probably in nearby parts of La Paz and Oruro.

The Bolivian Blackbird lives in subtropical and tropical shrubland at high elevation, in arid valleys or canyons with cliffs where it can breed. Bottoms of valleys are vegetated by forests and grasses, and tall Cereus cacti. The Bolivian Blackbird needs cliffs for nesting.

The Bolivian Blackbird gives series of “chip” interspersed with “chu-pit” and the song is described as “chip chip chip chip chu-pit chu-pit chu-pit chip chip”.
When in flight, it gives some “chu-pee” or “chu-pee-pit”, and also series of 3 to 4 “churr”.
Perched bird utters several clear whistles “tew”.
When the bird takes off, it utters loud “cheep-cheep” given in bursts of two or more.  
The female gives a long flight call when leaving the nest, including several different notes.
The alarm call is a short, sharp “chip”, given by the bird while flicking the tail.

The Bolivian Blackbird feeds on seeds and invertebrates on the ground. It also gleans insects on higher bushes, and takes fruits from cacti. It also takes seeds from grasses, probing along bent stems in order to glean insects from leaves.
Its diet includes several kinds of preys, such as spiders, grasshoppers, beetles, ants and larvae, butterflies and small moths.
It finds the most part of its food while foraging in crevices and at base of grasses, extracting preys from crevices, tree bark and shrub bases. It turns over rocks while searching for preys.

The Bolivian Blackbird performs courtship displays during which it adopts some particular postures. The male raises its closed tail, the bill is pointed upwards and it flips the wings upwards while calling.
The begging female adopts a typical posture with bill upwards and fluttering wings.
The birds also perform displays with dropped wings, lowered slightly spread tail, and fluffed rump feathers, while both mates bring nest materials.

The Bolivian Blackbird is often seen in small groups, defending an area from other flocks. It is sedentary, and the groups seem to be territorial all year round.

The Bolivian Blackbird often glides for short distances. The flight displays are performed by both mates with exaggerated wing beats involving slow, laboured flight. It usually perches at treetops from which it takes off for long distance flight to other perch.

The breeding season starts in mid-April.
The Bolivian Blackbird is the only blackbird nesting in cliffs. The nest is placed in crevice, and often moulded to the shape of the crevice. It is made with fibres, fine roots and dry grasses. It is a cup-shaped structure, lined inside with fine, dry grass stems and occasionally some feathers.

The female lays 3 pale greenish-grey eggs, with grey and brown markings. The incubation seems to be assumed mainly by the female. During this period, she often joins the flock, and begs for food, and flock members feed her.
Both parents feed the young, but helpers share these duties with the breeding pair.

The Bolivian Blackbird has restricted range where it is locally common in suitable habitat. This species is also present in several protected areas.  
The size of the population is unknown, but the numbers are suspected to be stable.  
The Bolivian Blackbird is not globally threatened and currently evaluated as Least Concern.     

Fr: Quiscale de Bolivie
Ang: Bolivian Blackbird
All: Andenstärling
Esp: Tordo Boliviano
Ita: Ittero della Bolivia
Nd: Andestroepiaal
Sd: boliviatrupial


Dubi Shapiro
Dubi Shapiro Photo Galleries

Text by Nicole Bouglouan


HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD Vol 16 by Josep del Hoyo- Andrew Elliot-David Christie – Lynx Edicions – ISBN: 9788496553781

NEW WORLD BLACKBIRDS – THE ICTERIDS by Alvaro Jaramillo and Peter Burke – Helm - ISBN : 0713643331

BIRDS OF SOUTH AMERICA – Passerines - by Robert S. Ridgely and Guy Tudor – HELM Field Guides – ISBN: 9781408113424

Avibase (Denis Lepage)

Birdlife International

HBW Alive

Neotropical Birds – Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Nesting and Other Habits of the Bolivian Blackbird (Oreopsar Bolivianus)


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Bolivian Blackbird
Oreopsar bolivianus

Passeriformes Order – Icteridae Family

The Bolivian Blackbird is endemic to Bolivia where it frequents habitats with tall columnar cacti and dry inter-montane valleys in the interior of the country.
It feeds on large insects, grass seeds and fruits of Cereus cacti. Unlike other Icteridae species, this one nests in cliffs, usually in crevices.
This species has restricted range, but it is not globally threatened for the moment.
Length: M: 23 cm
Weight: M: 73-74 g – F : 66-67 g

The Bolivian Blackbird adult male has black plumage on entire body, with dull blue gloss. Primary and secondary flight feathers are browner. Rest of upperwing is black. The tail is black too.
The underparts are black with velvet-like chin and forehead.
When in flight, the black body contrasts with the browner flight feathers.
The head is entirely black.
The strong, pointed, down curved bill is dark grey. The eyes are dark brown. Legs and feet are dark grey.