Andean cock-of-the-rock

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Andean cock-of-the-rock
Rupicola peruviana (male) -San Diego Zoo-8a.jpg
Male (nominate)
Female Andean Cock-of-the-Rock.jpg
Female (nominate)
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Cotingidae
Genus: Rupicola
Species: R. peruvianus
Binomial name
Rupicola peruvianus
(Latham, 1790)
Subspecies

The Andean cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruvianus) is a medium-sized passerine bird of the Cotinga family native to Andean cloud forests in South America. It is widely regarded as the national bird of Peru. It has four subspecies and its closest relative is the Guianan cock-of-the-rock.

The species exhibits marked sexual dimorphism; the male has a large disk-like crest and scarlet or brilliant orange plumage, while the female is significantly darker and browner. Gatherings of males compete for breeding females with each male displaying its colourful plumage, bobbing and hopping, and making a variety of calls. After mating, the female makes a nest under a rocky overhang, incubates the eggs, and rears the young, all by herself.

The Andean cock-of-the-rock eats a diet of many organisms. It consistently eats fruit and occasionally feeds on insects, amphibians, reptiles, and smaller mice. The species eats high protein fruits occasionally and has also been found to eat 14 others. It is distributed all across the Cloud Forest of the Andes. The species is patchily distributed across its range of about 260,000 square km. Even though it is being affected by its habitat destruction, the Andean cock-of-the-rock is not near enough to the threshold of becoming threatened.

Taxonomy and etymology[edit]

One of two species in the genus Rupicola, the other being the Guiana cock-of-the-rock, the Andean cock-of-the-rock was first described by English ornithologist John Latham in 1790. It is considered to be in Cotingidae, a family of brightly coloured birds. The generic name is derived from the Latin stems rupes "rock" or "cliff", and cola "inhabiting",[2] and is derived from its habit of nesting in rock walls. Its specific epithet peruvianus "of Peru" is masculine despite the -a ending of the genus name (in Latin, names in -cola were masculine or neuter); peruviana is seen in older works.[3] Four subspecies are known:[4]

  • R. p. peruvianus, (Latham 1790) - nominate subspecies
  • R. p. aequatorialis, Taczanowski 1889
  • R. p. sanguinolentus, Gould 1859
  • R. p. saturatus, Cabanis and Heine 1859

Description[edit]

Immature male at the Cincinnati Zoo, USA

The Andean cock-of-the-rock is a medium-sized passerine, approximately 32 centimetres (13 in) long and weighing 235 grams (8.3 oz). The birds is one of many birds species to exhibit marked sexual dimorphism. The male has a large disk-like crest and brilliant scarlet or orange plumage. It has black tail and wings, and pale greyish scapulars. The female is significantly drabber and browner than the male and has a less prominent crest. The bill is yellowish in the male, and dark with a small yellow tip in the female. Depending on gender and subspecies there are significant variations in the colour of the iris, ranging from red over orange and yellow to bluish-white in the male, and whitish over reddish to brown in the female.[5] In addition to the display calls described in the breeding section below, foraging birds give a loud querulous "uankk?" when disturbed or in flight.[6][7]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The Andean cock-of-the-rock is distributed in cloud forests of the Andes. It lives in a large range of about 260,000 km² across Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Perú, and Bolivia,[1] mostly in ravines and forested streams in montane areas at 500–2400 meters elevation. It typically stays in the lower and middle forest levels, but will range higher in fruiting trees and will sometimes enter and cross clearings. It is generally shy and inconspicuous, often seen only briefly after being flushed out or while swiftly flying down a valley.[6]

Rupicola peruvianus aequatorialis is the most widespread subspecies, ranging across the Andes of East Columbia to West Venezuela, East Ecuador and East Peru. The nominate subspecies, Rupicola peruvianus peruvianus has a small range stretching only through the Andes of Central Peru. Rupicola peruvianus sanguinolentus ranges throughout the Andes in West Columbia to Northwest Ecuador. The subspecies Rupicola peruvianus saturatus has a range across Southeast Peru and West Bolivia.[8]

Behaviour[edit]

Food and feeding[edit]

The diet consists mainly of fruit and insects, although small reptiles and frogs have been recorded.[9] The fruits consumed are often from the plant families Lauraceae, Annonaceae, and Rubiaceae, although a few other plant families have also been reported in their diet.[7] They are one of many species recorded following army ants.[10] They occasionally will eat high protein fruits, but they prefer to eat the other fruits on their menu.[7]

Breeding[edit]

Detail of the male head plumage

The male takes the lesser part in breeding, is polygamous, and has nothing to do with nesting once mating is done. The male's energy instead is devoted to very elaborate display rituals that show off its magnificent plumage. These displays take place in communal leks, where males gather to challenge rivals and beckon the females.[5] The males are easily disturbed, so their behavior is not easy to see.[6] One study reported that the display activity is dependent on light intensity, with the morning display period occurring during the same light intensity level as the afternoon period.[11]

Male Andean cock-of-the-rock choosing the best lekking position

At the lek males have been observed to break up into pairs, performing "confrontation displays". This consists of facing each other while bowing, jumping, and flapping their wings, sometimes even snapping their bills, and at the same time giving off various squawking and grunting calls. When the female approaches, it becomes even more intense. The display turns into a cacophony of bright color and a frenzied activity filling the air with very strange sounds.[6]

Breeding takes place during different intervals in different areas. In Colombia, breeding normally happens in February until July. In Ecuador, the breeding interval spans from July until February.[12]

Nesting[edit]

The nests, built entirely by the female, are mud plastered to cave entrances or rocky outcrops in forest ravines.[13] The nests are often constructed from the saliva of the females mixed in with vegetable matter and mud.[7][12] The nest is shaped like a concave cup.[12] The female typically lays two white eggs.[14] The females incubates these eggs for about 25 to 28 days.[7]

Impact on environment[edit]

Andean cocks-of-the-rocks influence the environment around them. It was found that a white-capped dipper renovated an abandoned cock-of-the-rock nest to lay its eggs in. Cock-of-the-rock also change the surrounding flora through seed dispersal. Seeds that the birds ingest often are found deposited around lek and nesting sites. This favours the germination and growth of those seeds. The diversity of these types of seeds has been found to be increased at lek and nests and decreased throughout the surrounding forest.[15]

Predators[edit]

Andean cocks-of-the-rock face slightly larger predators than smaller songbirds. Predators are attracted to leks by the conspicuous behavior of the displaying males. The animals reported to prey on adult cocks-of-the-rock including hawk-eagles, hawks, forest-falcons, jaguar, puma, ocelot and the boa constrictor.[15]

Relationship with humans[edit]

The Andean cock-of-the-rock is the regarded as the national bird of Peru.[5] Juveniles and adults have occasionally been used as pets.[16]

Conservation[edit]

The worldwide population size and trends in population numbers have not been determined, but is it believed that the Andean cock-of-the-rock is not threatened. The species is evaluated as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species despite habitat destruction. It is patchily distributed, but its range is large enough to sustain it at a Least Concern status.[1][7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c BirdLife International (2012). "Rupicola peruvianus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Simpson, D. P. (1979). Cassell's Latin Dictionary (5 ed.). London: Cassell Ltd. p. 883. ISBN 0-304-52257-0. 
  3. ^ David, N. & Gosselin, M. (2002). "The gramatical gender of avian genera." Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club. 122(4): 257-282.
  4. ^ "Zoological Nomenclature Resource: Psittaciformes (Version 9.005)". www.zoonomen.net. 2008-12-18. 
  5. ^ a b c Bostwick, K. S. (2004). "Andean Cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruvianus)". pp. 107–108. in: del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A. & Christie, D. A. eds. (2004). "Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 9. Cotingas to Pipits and Wagtails." Lynx Editions, Barcelona. ISBN 84-87334-69-5
  6. ^ a b c d Ridgely, Robert S.; Guy Tudor (1994). The Birds of South America: The Suboscine Passerines. University of Texas Press. pp. 778–779. ISBN 0-19-857218-2. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f Begazo, A & Farrow-Johnson (2012). "Andean Cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruvianus)". Neotropical Birds Online. Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 
  8. ^ "Rupicola peruvianus". Avibase. 
  9. ^ Leonardo E. Lopes1, Alexandre M. Fernandes1, & Miguel Â. Marini (2005). "Predation on vertebrates by Neotropical passerine birds" (PDF). Lundiana (Instituto de Ciências Biológicas - UFMG) 6 (1): 57–66. 
  10. ^ Margarita Rios, Gustavo Londoño, & Luis Biancucci (2008). "Notes on birds that follow army ants in the northern Andes" (PDF). Ornitologia Neotropical (The Neotropical Ornithological Society) 19: 137–142. 
  11. ^ Hill, Geoffrey E.; Kevin J. McGraw (2006). Bird Coloration. Harvard University Press. p. 159. ISBN 978-0-674-01893-8. 
  12. ^ a b c Janni, O., Boano, G., Pavia, M., Gertosio, G. (2008). "Notes on the breeding of birds in Yanachaga-Chemillén National Park, Peru". Cotinga 30 (2008): 42-46.
  13. ^ Hilty, Steven L.; Bill Brown (1986). A Guide to the Birds of Colombia. William L. Brown. Princeton University Press. p. 440. ISBN 978-0-691-08372-8. 
  14. ^ Reina, Ruben; E. Reina (1991). The Gift of Birds. UPenn Museum of Archaeology. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-924171-12-3. 
  15. ^ a b Ecology.Info: "Rupicola peruvianus: page 1, page 2"
  16. ^ BirdLife species factsheet for Rupicola peruvianus. 2013.

External links[edit]