January 2013 – Crested Guan (Penelope purpurascens)

By Petr Myska ● January, 2013

After having introduced some of the most frequent birds of the area in the past 6 articles, I believe there is time to become acquainted with some of the rare members of the local avifauna.

Crested Guan (Penelope purpurascens)

Crested Guan (Penelope purpurascens)

Many less seen bird species tend to escape our attention by being tiny or drab or silent, or all of the above. Crested guan is neither. One of the largest forest birds of Mexico and vigorous singer, guan would be difficult to miss. Alas, its populations are suffering a severe decline throughout their distribution range, due to massive hunting. Plainly stated – a guan is a substantial chunk of tasty meat.

Crested guans are dark, turkey-like (but not closely related to) birds, which inhabit humid and semihumid evergreen and semideciduous forest on both Mexican coasts from Sinaloa and Tamaulipas south to El Salvador and Honduras. An adult can grow up to 90 cm in length. The overall color is very dark brown to black, streaked and mottled white. Prominent erectile crest together with large red throat wattle are the best distinguishing features of the species. In our region a guan could be confused possibly only with Chachalacas, which are at least 1/3 smaller, do not have a crest and are also lighter-colored.

Guans usually feed on fruit and travel in pairs or small groups. Just like other Cracids, guans are not fussy about nesting. Fairly flimsy structures made of twigs and other vegetable matter are placed anywhere in bush or canopy. Usually 2-3 eggs are laid.

There are still several resident populations around the bay area, but let’s say nothing about their whereabouts for the birdies’ sake. Those of you, who are true birders, nature lovers or vegetarian, are granted my permission to listen up early in the morning mist over a forested canyon for the “yoink yoink yoink” and “kyeh-kyeh-kyeh” of a guan greeting the rising sun.

Click here to see the San Blas Jay in action – Videoclip

Visit the VN Illustrated Database of Mexican Biodiversity – http://www.vivanatura.org/
Visit the Images of Nature – http://www.imanat.com/
Video: http://www.vivanatura.tv/Csanblasianus1.html

NaturePetr Myska
E-mail: pmyska@vivanatura.org

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