Wattled guan (Aburria aburri)

Also known as: Wattled piping-guan
GenusAburria (1)
SizeLength: 72.5 – 77.5 cm (2)
Weight1195 – 1550 g (2)

Classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List 2006 (1).

The wattled guan is immediately recognisable by the long, slender, bright yellow and red wattle that hangs from the throat, a feature unique to this species, earning it its common name. The vivid colour of these distinctive wattles stands out against the primarily black plumage of the body. Juveniles are similar to adults, but with a less developed wattle (2).

Found from Western Venezuala and North Colombia south through Ecuador to South-central Peru (2) (3).

The wattled guan occupies wet mountain forest, forest borders, and tall secondary forest next to primary forest, often on steep mountainous terrain (2). The bird has been recorded at elevations of 500 to 2,500 m (2) (3).

The wattled guan forages for fruit mainly between the middle and upper storeys of fruiting trees, usually in pairs or groups of three (2).

The breeding season has been recorded from September to March in Peru, with chicks observed in December and February (2).

The primary threats facing this distinctive bird are habitat loss, mainly through forest clearance for agriculture, and hunting (3). Deforestation has been particularly rife in the Andes, and the species is now almost certainly extinct in some localities, most notably on the Western slope of the Andes in Peru (2) (3). Hunting for food and sport also poses a serious threat. Its large size makes this bird a prized target for poachers in many parts of its range, while its noisy habits and tendency to stay on branches when spotted make this species particularly vulnerable to hunting (2) (3).

Bizarrely, hunting restrictions are enforced by guerrilla groups in parts of Colombia, and the use of land mines in forested areas indirectly provides a certain amount of protection for this bird (3). Some environmental education programmes have been developed to raise awareness of the plight of this species, directed particularly at hunters that may hunt in protected areas (4).

For more information on the wattled guan see:

del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. (1994) Handbook of the Birds of the World - New World Vultures To Guineafowl. Vol. 2. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

For more information on this and other bird species please see:

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  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2011)