The horned guan is named after the unusual red horn of bare skin on the top of its head (4). The rest of the plumage is black with a glossy blue-green sheen, apart from the foreneck, breast and a broad band on the base of the tail which are white (2). The bill is yellow, the legs are red and there is also a small dewlap of red skin on the throat. Some experts believe that the horned guan should be placed in a separate family as it appears to represent more of a mid-point between the guans and the currasows rather than belonging completely in one or other of these groups (5).
Very little data exists on the behaviour of the horned guan in the wild. Field studies suggest that this species may have a polygynous mating system, in which one male mates with around three to five females (5)(6). Breeding generally occurs in the beginning of the year and two eggs are laid (4). Nests may be located high in rainforest trees, for example, Ternoestroemia lineata(7).
Fruit and leaves make up the majority of the diet (5), although invertebrates may also be eaten on occasion (4).
Extensive deforestation for logging, the gathering of firewood and for agricultural expansion, has occurred in the lush forests where these birds are found (4). Habitat loss is consequently the greatest threat to the survival of this species, and the development of new roads allows ever-more pristine forest to be exploited (4).
The horned guan is protected in both Guatemala and Mexico, and international trade in the species is prohibited by its listing on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) (3). A small number of individuals have been bred in captivity and many populations are located within reserves. Despite these measures however, the number of individuals is estimated to be fewer than 2,500, and appears to be declining (4).
González-García, F., Romero, J.A.R. and Cóbar Carranza, A.J. (2006) Extinct in the Wild and Critically Endangered - Horned Guan (Oreophasis derbianus). In: Brooks, D.M., Cancino, L. and Pereira, S.L. (Eds.) Conserving Cracids: the most Threatened Family of Birds in the Americas. Houston Museum of Natural Science, Houston, Texas.
BirdLife International. (2000) Threatened Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, Barcelona and Cambridge.
del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1994) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
Gonzalez-Garcia, F. (1995) Reproductive Biology and Vocalisations of the Horned Guan Oreophasis derbianus in Mexico. The Condor, 97: 415 - 426.
González-García, F., Romero, J.A.R. and Cóbar Carranza, A.J. (2006) Extinct in the Wild and Critically Endangered - Horned Guan (Oreophasis derbianus). In: Brooks, D.M., Cancino, L. and Pereira, S.L. (Eds) Conserving Cracids: the most Threatened Family of Birds in the Americas. Houston Museum of Natural Science, Houston, Texas.
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