Crested guan

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Crested guan
Penelope purpurascens.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Galliformes
Family: Cracidae
Genus: Penelope
Species: P. purpurascens
Binomial name
Penelope purpurascens
Wagler, 1830
Subspecies
  • P. p. aequatorialis (Salvadori and Festa, 1900)
  • P. p. brunnescens (Hellmayr and Conover, 1932)
  • P. p. purpurascens (Wagler, 1830)

The crested guan (Penelope purpurascens) is a member of an ancient group of birds of the Cracidae family, which are related to the Australasian mound builders. It breeds in lowlands from south Mexico and the Yucatán Peninsula to western Ecuador and southern Venezuela at up to 1,850 m (6,070 ft) altitude.

The crested guan is an arboreal forest species. The substantial twig nest is built in a tree or stump and lined with leaves. The female lays two or three large rough-shelled white eggs and incubates them alone.

This is a large gamebird, with a length varying from 84 to 91.5 cm (33.1 to 36.0 in). These birds commonly weigh around 1,750 g (3.86 lb), though can weigh as little as 1,361 g (3.000 lb) in P. p. brunnescens, the smallest race on average. Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 33 to 42.8 cm (13.0 to 16.9 in), the tail is 34 to 41.5 cm (13.4 to 16.3 in) and the tarsus is 7.4 to 9.1 cm (2.9 to 3.6 in).[2][3] It is similar in general appearance to a turkey, with a small head, long strong red legs, and a long broad tail. It is mainly dark brown, with white spotting on the neck and breast. The rump and belly are rufous. The head sports a bushy crest, from which the species gets its name, blue-grey bare skin around the eye, and a bare red dewlap or wattle.

The sexes are similar, but young birds have black vermiculations and ochre specks on the body plumage.

The crested guan is a noisy bird with a loud plee or quonk call, a whistled contact call and a powerful keLEEEErrrr! dawn song.

This is a social bird, often seen in pairs or family groups of 6–12. It walks along branches seeking the fruit and foliage on which it feeds, or flies off with a heavy ani-like flap and glide.

The range of this species has severely contracted outside remote or protected forests due to deforestation and hunting.

A crested guan in the wild on Barro Colorado Island, Panama

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