CAUCA GUAN } Penelope perspicax
FAMILY: Cracidae

DESCRIPTION: The Cauca guan is a large bird measuring 30 inches in length. It is primarily a brown-gray color, with a chestnut-colored rear part and tail and a bright-red dewlap. Like other guans, its call is a loud, boisterous honking, especially during mating season and when it is alarmed in groups. 

HABITAT: This species' habitat consists of mature tropical humid forests and fragmented secondary forests, forest edges, and plantations of exotic broadleaf trees.

RANGE: The Cauca guan is endemic to the central and western slopes of the Andes of Colombia. Although historically the bird's range consisted of large areas for foraging, it is currently confined to a few small forest fragments, which span the departments of Cauca, Valle de Cauca, Quindio, and Risaralda. The current range of the species totals fewer than 290 square miles, of which only 216 square miles are considered suitable habitat.

MIGRATION: Due to its rarity, little is known about this species' migration habits.

BREEDING: The bird has two breeding seasons that coincide with the rainy and dry seasons, one at the beginning of the year and the other in August. It has a clutch size of two eggs.

LIFE CYCLE: Little is known about this bird's life cycle or life span.

FEEDING: The Cauca guan feeds mainly on fruit and leaves and occasionally invertebrates and flowers.

THREATS: The primary threat to this species is habitat conversion for the purpose of human settlements, road building, agriculture, illegal drug-cultivation and drug-eradication efforts, and timber extraction. In addition, the species is threatened by hunting and egg collection. In the last half of the 20th century, Colombia has lost one-third of its primary forest habitat.

POPULATION TREND: The population estimate for this species is 250 to 999 birds, with a decreasing trend.

Cuaca guan photo © Robert Scanlon