Unsorted Wild Birds

Crested Guans


The Crested Guans, Penelope purpurascens, is a member of an ancient group of birds of the Cracidae family, which are related to the Australasian mound builders.


Distribution / Range:

It breeds in lowlands from south Mexico and the Yucat√°n Peninsula to western Ecuador and northern Venezuela at up to 1850 m altitude.

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

The Crested Guan is an arboreal forest species.


Breeding / Nesting:

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 bird, typically 86 cm long and weighing 1700 g. 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.

Males and females look alike, but young birds have black vermiculations (= a pattern of fine, wavy, worm-like lines or streaks of color) and ochre specks on the body plumage.

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.


Calls / Vocalization:

The Crested Guans is a noisy bird with a loud place or quonk call, a whistled contact call, and a powerful keLEEEErrrr! dawn song.


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Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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