Cotingas (Cotingidae)

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Cotingas

(Cotingidae)

Class Aves

Order Passeriformes

Suborder Tyranni

Family Cotingidae


Thumbnail description
A spectacular group of birds that range in size from a canary to a crow, and are characterized by extreme colors, vocalizations, and/or body ornamentation

Size
3.25–20 in (8–51 cm); 0.04–1.25 lb (18–571 g)

Number of genera, species
25 genera; 61 species

Habitat
Predominately tropical forest, including seasonally inundated and dry tropical forest

Conservation status
Critically Endangered: 1 species; Endangered: 4 species; Vulnerable: 10 species; Near Threatened: 5 species

Distribution
Southern Mexico to northern Argentina and eastern Brazil

Evolution and systematics

The cotingas (Cotingidae) are a striking family of birds. Not widely investigated in the past, cotingas are becoming more widely researched, and the number of studies is increasing. There are no known fossils of this family at the present time.

The common ancestor in cotinga lineage was perhaps similar to the Old World family Eurylaimidae. In addition to giving rise to cotingas, this ancestor also gave rise to manakins and tyrant flycatchers. Indeed, Tityras and Becards, were, until recently, placed within the family Cotingidae, but now are considered tyrant flycatchers (family Tyrannidae). Some species of cotingas such as red-cotingas (Phoenicircus) are considered by some to be the link between the cotinga and manakin families, based upon morphological and behavioral characteristics. More than one-half of the genera are represented as "superspecies", where there are several closely related "sister taxa" with non-overlapping geographic ranges.

Peters Checklist recognizes 25 genera with 61 species, including: 1. The true cotinga (Cotinga). The males are brilliant blue to purple in different patterns, while the females are dull brown. These birds are found in the tropical zone of the Amazon forests. There are seven species, including the banded cotinga (Cotinga maculata) which is found in Brazil; 2. The fruiteaters (Pipreola) comprise at least eight species, including the barred fruiteater (Pipreola arcuata); 3. The red-ruffed fruitcrow (Pyroderus scutatus); 4. The capuchin bird (Perissocephalus tricolor); 5. The Amazonian umbrella bird (Cephalopterus ornatus), one of the largest species, with a length of up to 22 in (51 cm); 6. The cocks-of-the-rock (Rupicola) are plump, short-tailed, broad-footed birds. There are two species, including the andean cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruviana); and 7. The bellbirds (Procnias), of which there are four species: a. The white bellbird (Procnias alba); b. The bare-throated bellbird (Procnias nudicollis); c. The three-wattled bellbird (Procnias tricarunculata); and d. The bearded (or mossy-throated) bellbird (Procnias averano).

Physical characteristics

Cotingas are characterized by compact bodies, large heads and wide mouths, often with a hook-tipped bill. The tarsi (feet) are surrounded only by band-like plates in front, but covered at the rear with very small platelets which are not all contiguous. Although the legs are short relative to the size of

the bird, the feet are of sufficient to perch comfortably; this is perhaps enhanced by long, sharp claw in some species (e.g., Rupicola, Cephalopterus).

Cotingas show more variation in size than any other group of passerines, ranging from the size of a canary to a crow. The length is 3–20 in (8–50 cm). There is a significant amount of sexual dimorphism, with mass being greater in females of the smaller species (e.g., Iodopleura, Porphyrolaema, Cotinga, Lipaugus, and Phoenicircus), but the reverse situation (i.e., greater in males) in the larger species (e.g., Gymnodoerus, Cephalopterus). Dimorphism also extends to plumage, with males being the more colorful sex.

Many species are quite beautiful; they have striking colors, decorative plumes, crests, inflatable throat sacs, strands of skin or bare leppets on the forehead or at the angle of the beak. These ornaments are more strongly accentuated in males. Many of the larger cotingas are distinguished not only by the gloss and brightness of their plumage and their quite unusual appendages, but also by their tuneful, far-reaching calls. The vocal muscles are strong.

Distribution

Cotingas are restricted to the Neotropics, distributed from southern Mexico through most of tropical South America as far as northern Argentina. Although most species are found at sea level, there are several Andean forms, with species such as the white-cheeked cotinga (Ampelion stresemanni) ranging up to 14,000 ft (4,300 m).

Countries harboring the most different species of cotingas include Brazil (approximately 33 species), and the northwest Andean countries (Colombia 35, Peru 31, Ecuador 30, Venezuela 27). In contrast, the countries furthest south (Argentina) and north (Middle American countries) of the equator contain only two or three species.

Most cotingas are regionally restricted. While several species are found throughout most of the Amazon basin, the species with the widest distribution is perhaps the purple-throated fruitcrow (Querula purpurata), which ranges from Costa Rica through Bolivia. In contrast, the rarest species is the kinglet calyptura (Calyptura cristata) that is restricted to a 0.4 mi2 (1 km2) patch of forest north of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This species went unreported for most of the 1900s, though some recent reports from 1996 suggest that it is still present.

Habitat

Most cotingas are shy, unobtrusive avoiders of civilization, and as such they inhabit the upper and middle tree levels of continuous forest areas, as residents. Only a few species are also found in open landscapes or secondary forest. Many of the larger species (e.g., Gymnodoerus and Cephalopterus ornatus) are riverine specialists, but some of the smaller species (e.g., Cotinga maynana) will inhabit riverine habitat or swamp edges as well. They are often visually inconspicuous and at the same time widely distributed.

Behavior

While many of the smaller species (e.g., Porphyrolaema) are solitary, the larger species (e.g., Gymnodoerus) will often travel in small flocks.

There are general "tradeoffs" in adaptations used by male cotingas to attract females. In general terms, males of the smaller species (e.g., Cotinga) tend to be brighter colored and less vocal, whereas the medium-sized species tend to be more vocal and less brightly colored (Querula); the largest species (e.g., Cephalopterus) tend to have more apparent body ornamentation, such as throat wattles or lappets.

While many of the cotingas have a very subtle or soft call, some of the more "drab" species compensate what they lack in plumage with a series of resonating, and sometimes farreaching, whistles (e.g., Lipaugus, Tijuca, Querula). Some of the larger species are able to expand parts of the trachea and pharynx, to release with the exhale a sound similar to the "mooing" of a cow, thus the name "Calfbird" (Perissocephalus); another species displaying this "mooing" vocalization is the Umbrellabird (Cephalopterus). Other species (e.g., Rupicola, Procnias nudicollis) are quite vocal as well. Some species are able to produce noises of sorts with their wings (e.g., Cotinga, Xipholena, Phoenicircus, Rupicola).

Many cotinga species form "leks" (loose to tight associations of several males vying for females through elaborate display), although this trend appears to be strongest in the medium-sized species (e.g., Lipaugus, Phoenicircus).

Cotingas do not exhibit any great degree of territoriality. For example, different species of cotingas (e.g., Cotinga, Querula, Gymnodoerus) may be perched in the same tree with no agonistic behavior. Similarly, these same species have been observed occupying trees with other families of birds (e.g., kites [Ictinia plumbea], parrots [Graydidascalus brachyurus, Brotogeris cyanoptera], flycatchers [Empidonomus aurantioatrocristatus, Tyrannopsis luteiventris], and other passerines [Laniocerca hypopyrrha, Scaphidura oryzivora, Thraupis episcopus]) present without incident. Helmut Sick notes that species such as Piprites, Querula purpurata, and Oxyruncus cristatus join mixed species flocks of birds regularly. During more than 10 weeks of observation in the northern Peruvian Amazon, only a single incident of agonistic behavior was observed. This involved a female spangled cotinga Cotinga cayana and female Cinereous mourner Laniocerca hypopyrrha (a non-Cotingid) simultaneously mobbing a female bare-necked fruitcrow Gymnodoerus through habitat that was atypical for the latter species. The mobbing behavior led to the Gymnodoerus flying out of the area. In Brazil, Sick noted a Procnias nudicollis displacing a female Xipholena atropurpurea from a tree.

Like most Passerines, cotingas are inactive at night, and most active during the early morning light. The secondary peak of activity tends to occur in the late afternoon, just before dusk.

Although some short-distance migration patterns (or altitudinal migration) may characterize some species of cotingas, the family is for the most part non-migratory.

Feeding ecology and diet

Cotingas have wide gaping mouths, adapted to eating berries and other fruits. The larger species and those which inhabit open country also like to take insects as well. Fruits eaten include those of palms (Euterpes, Livistonia) and Cecropias, as well as fruits of the plant families Lauraceae, Burseraceae, Loranthaceae, Melostomataceae, and Myrsinaceae (e.g., Rapanea ferruginea).

There appears to be increased dietary specialization in larger species versus smaller species, which are more generalized in their diets. Additionally, many of the smaller species tend to be "gorgers", settling in the lower parts of bushes to feed on masting fruits. Feeding is done while flying, perching, or hopping through branches. As a relatively passive group, cotingas display little intraspecific competition or aggression at fruiting trees, with several individuals (even males) foraging without incident in at least some species (Cotinga).

Smaller seeds of the fruits they consume are passed through and dispersed without being digested, whereas larger seeds are regurgitated on the spot. Seed dispersal helps regenerate the tropical forests where cotingas live, as seeds of their preferred food plants are distributed throughout the forests.

Reproductive biology

Cotingas are polygynous birds. Several species of cotingas (e.g., Pyroderus scutatus, Perissocephalus tricolor, and Phoenicircus), form "tight" leks where the males compete for the attention of a female through elaborate displays. Other more drab species such as Lipaugus and Querula purpurata, will compete for females in "loosely-attended" leks through their loud calls that carry far in the tropical forest. In yet other species, a single male will court a female, but not without the presence of other males. "Flags" (signals designed to attract attention) during flight serve as courtship signals in species such as Xipholena, whereas an elaborate flight entails the courtship for species such as Gymnodoerus and Haemotoderus.

Most species lay a single egg, concordant with Rensch's rule of clutch sizes decreasing in more equatorial species; however, clutch size may reach three eggs in species such as Phibalura flavirostris. While egg color varies from yellow to brown among species, most taxa have flecking at the blunt end. Females incubate alone in some genera, such as Cotinga and Querula, whereas in others males assist during nest building (e.g., Phibalura) or incubation (e.g., Iodopleura and Phibalura). Aggressive nest defense has been observed in certain species as well. Incubation is generally 25 to 28 days for the larger species, but may be of shorter duration for the smaller species.

Nests vary considerably from species to species. Species of most genera (e.g., Cotinga, Querula, Xipholena, Perissocephalus, Lipaugus, and Cephalopterus) build a small platform of sticks in the fork of a tree. Other species build a smaller nest with a shallow cup (e.g., Phibalura, Gymnodoerus, and Iodopleura).

The chicks hatch blind and featherless, quite dependent upon the parents. Females alone care for the brood in genera such as Cotinga and Procnias. In other species (e.g., Querula purpurata) multiple helpers care for the brood. The young leave the nest at, or slightly more than, one month of age. Some cotingas have more than one clutch per year.

Conservation status

Of the 61 species, the kinglet calyptura (Calyptura cristata) is considered Critically Endangered, 4 species are considered Endangered (Iodopleura pipra, Cotinga maculata, Xipholena atropurpurea, and Carpodectes antoniae), 10 are considered Vulnerable (Laniisoma elegans, Tijuca condita, Carpornis melanocephalus, Doliornis remseni, Lipaugus uropygialis, L. lanioides, Cotinga ridgwayi, Cephalopterus glabricollis, C. penduliger, and Procnias tricarunculata), and 5 are considered Near Threatened. This makes nearly one-third of the species of real or potential conservation concern.

Habitat destruction is the main threat to cotingas. Of the 20 species that are of potential conservation concern, 12 are from the Brazilian coastal Atlantic forests, which suffer extensively from forest fragmentation. Of the remaining species, four are from the Andes, and four are from Middle America, both areas which also suffer forest fragmentation.

Once thought to be extinct, the kinglet calyptura caused great excitment among birdwatchers when it was spotted by Brazilian bird expert Ricardo Parrini in Rio de Janeiro on October 27, 1996. The first sighting of this tiny creature in over 100 years, the find was documented in a 2001 edition of Cotinga magazine.

Significance to humans

Several indigenous tribes use cotinga feathers in their ornamentation. One of the most frequently seen groups is Cotinga, which is commonly represented in costumes of certain Amazonian tribes. Perhaps as many as 10–15% of artifacts have Cotinga feathers, although the most commonly used feathers are those of Psittacids (Ara and Amazona). During the late 1990s, cocks-of-the-rock were threatened due to demand of their feathers to make fishing flies. Additionally some species may be hunted incidentally as a protein source. The head and beard ornamentation of species such as Cephalopterus ornatus are sometimes seen in Amazonian riverboats, but the associated belief, whether aphrodisiac or mere folklore, is unknown.

Species accounts

List of Species

Spangled cotinga
Purple-breasted cotinga
Banded cotinga
Plum-throated cotinga
Turquoise cotinga
Bare-necked umbrellabird
Amazonian umbrellabird
Long-wattled umbrellabird
Andean cock-of-the-rock
Guianan cock-of-the-rock
White bellbird
Bearded bellbird
Bare-throated bellbird
Three-wattled bellbird

Spangled cotinga

Cotinga cayana

taxonomy

Cotinga cayana Linnaeus, 1766.

other common names

French: Cotinga de Cayenne; German: Halsbandkotinga; Spanish: Cotinga Grande.

physical characteristics

The average weight is 2.7 oz (76 g). Sexually dimorphic. Females are darkish brown with a light brown, spotted breast. Males are a stunning turquoise color with shimmering iridescent feathers and a band of blue across the chest.

distribution

This species is found throughout the Amazon. It is the only species within the genus that overlaps the geographic distribution of other congeners.

habitat

This species is a canopy specialist in lowland tropical evergreen forest. While principally a lowland species, it may range up to 0.5 mi (800 m).

behavior

The quiet behavior of the members of this genus is in contrast with their vivid colors. During courtship male spangled cotingas

will flatten themselves horizontally, moving the wings and spreading the tail while emitting a soft and mournful "hooooo."

Various congeners will forage in the same tree with spangled cotingas, such as plum-throated cotinga (Cotinga maynana). The spangled cotinga will also forage with other species of cotingas including the purple-throated (Querula purpurata) and bare-necked fruitcrows (Gymnodoerus foetidus).

While conspecifics are often found in close association, there is at least one record of a male spangled cotinga chasing another male from the area. A female spangled cotinga and female cinereous mourner simultaneously mobbed a female bare-necked fruitcrow through habitat that was atypical for the latter species. On another occasion a male spangled cotinga was observed chasing a black-headed parrot (Pionites melanocephala).

feeding ecology and diet

Fruit and berries are consumed, often "gorging" at a masting tree or bush such as mistletoe. The fruits are often plucked on the wing. Although the seeds of larger species (e.g., mistletoe) might be regurgitated, smaller seeds are often swallowed. Insects are also taken.

reproductive biology

The mating system is not completely known within this group. However, there is some evidence that loose lek associations may be in place.

The nest is platform type, often high in a tree fork, or next to an epiphyte. The female incubates and cares for the young alone.

conservation status

Not threatened.

significance to humans

Several indigenous tribes use cotinga feathers in their ornamentation.


Purple-breasted cotinga

Cotinga cotinga

taxonomy

Cotinga cotinga Linnaeus, 1766.

other common names

French: Cotinga de Daubenton; German: Purpurbrust Kotinga; Spanish: Continga de Pecho Morado.

physical characteristics

Average weight is 2.5 oz (70 g). Males are predominantly navy blue in color, with black wings and tail, and violet on the throat and breast. Their subcutaneous and perivisceral fat often takes on the blue color of the berries they prefer.

distribution

This species is found in northern Amazonia, in eastern Colombia, the Guinan Shield, and northern Brazil. The only species

within the genus that overlaps its geographic distribution is the spangled cotinga (Cotinga cayana).

habitat

This species is a canopy specialist in lowland tropical evergreen forest. While principally a lowland species, it may range up to 0.5 mi (800 m).

behavior

The quiet behavior of the members of this genus is in contrast with their vivid colors. However, the male emits a sharp, loud "whirr" with his wings when in flight.

feeding ecology and diet

Fruit and berries are consumed, often "gorging" at a masting tree or bush such as mistletoe. The fruits are often plucked on the wing. Although the seeds of larger species (e.g., mistletoe) might be regurgitated, smaller seeds are often swallowed. Insects are also taken.

reproductive biology

The mating system is not completely known within this group, although for the most part it appears that males display solitarily.

The nest is platform type, often high in a tree fork, or next to an epiphyte. The female incubates and cares for the young alone.

conservation status

Not threatened.

significance to humans

Several indigenous tribes use cotinga feathers in their ornamentation.


Banded cotinga

Cotinga maculata

taxonomy

Cotinga maculatus Mueller, 1776.

other common names

French: Cotinga cordonbleu; German: Pracht Kotinga; Spanish: Continga Franjeada.

physical characteristics

Weight for this genus is around 2.5–2.8 oz (70–80 g). This species is starling-sized. Males are predominantly ultramarine-blue coloration, with black on the wings and tail, and separate patches of violet on the throat and breast. Their subcutaneous and perivisceral fat often takes on the blue color of the berries they prefer.

distribution

This species is restricted to a small area of the coastal forests of Brazil. The only species within the genus that overlaps its geographic distribution is the spangled cotinga (Cotinga cayana).

habitat

This species is a canopy specialist in lowland tropical evergreen forest. One of the most lowland-dwelling forms in this genus, they rarely exceed 660 ft (200 m) in elevation.

behavior

The quiet behavior of the members of this genus is in contrast with their vivid colors.

feeding ecology and diet

Fruit and berries are consumed, often "gorging" at a masting tree or bush such as mistletoe. The fruits are often plucked on the wing. Although the seeds of larger species (e.g., mistletoe) might be regurgitated, smaller seeds are often swallowed. Insects are also taken.

reproductive biology

The mating system is not completely known within this group, although for the most part it appears that males display solitarily.

The nest is typically platform type, often high in a tree fork, or next to an epiphyte. Although there is a report of one nesting inside an arboreal termite nest. The female incubates and cares for the young alone.

conservation status

Endangered, with habitat fragmentation being the principal threat. Additionally, populations were reduced in the past from over-collecting for the live-bird industry, as well as to provide feathers for "feather flowers" made by Indians and Bahian nuns. Today however the bird is on CITES Appendix I and is protected by Brazilian law. Its geographic range is estimated at 780 km2. Its numbers are estimated at less than 1,000, with populations declining.

significance to humans

Several indigenous tribes use cotinga feathers in their ornamentation. One of the most frequently seen groups is Cotinga, which is commonly represented in costumes of certain Amazonian tribes. Perhaps as many as 10–15% of artifacts have Cotinga feathers, although the most commonly used feathers are those of Psittacids (Ara and Amazona).


Plum-throated cotinga

Cotinga maynana

taxonomy

Cotinga maynana Linnaeus, 1766.

other common names

French: Cotinga de Maynas; German: Veilchenkehl Kotinga; Spanish: Continga de Garganta Morada.

physical characteristics

The average weight is 2.5 oz (70 g). This species is starling-sized, and the males are predominantly blue in color, with a violet colored throat. Their subcutaneous and perivisceral fat often takes on the blue color of the berries they prefer.

distribution

This species is found in western Amazonia, from southeastern Colombia to northern Bolivia and western Brazil. The only species within the genus that overlaps its geographic distribution is the spangled cotinga (Cotinga cayana).

habitat

This species, like other members of this genus, can be found in canopies of lowland tropical evergreen forest. In stark contrast to other members of this genus however, the plum-throated cotinga tends to inhabit more aqueous environs, such as flooded forest, blackwater swamps, and river edge. Additionally, it may be found in secondary forest. It may range up to 3,900 ft (1,200 m) in Ecuador.

behavior

The quiet behavior of the members of this genus is in contrast with their vivid colors.

Various congeners will forage in the same tree with Plum-throated cotingas, such as the spangled cotinga (Cotinga cayana). Additionally, the plum-throated cotingas has been observed foraging in the same tree with parrots (short-tailed parrots[Graydidascalus brachyurus] and cobalt-winged parakeet [Brotogeris cyanoptera]).

feeding ecology and diet

Fruit and berries are consumed, often "gorging" at a masting tree or bush such as mistletoe. The fruits are often plucked on the wing. Although the seeds of larger species (e.g., mistletoe) might be regurgitated, smaller seeds are often swallowed. Insects are also taken.

reproductive biology

The mating system is not completely known within this group, although for the most part it appears that males display solitarily.

The nest is platform type, often high in a tree fork, or next to an epiphyte. The female incubates and cares for the young alone.

conservation status

Not threatened.

significance to humans

Several indigenous tribes use cotinga feathers in their ornamentation. One of the most frequently seen groups is Cotinga, which is commonly represented in costumes of certain Amazonian tribes. Perhaps as many as 10–15% of artifacts haveCotinga feathers, although the most commonly used feathers are those of Psittacids (Ara and Amazona).


Turquoise cotinga

Cotinga ridgwayi

taxonomy

Cotinga ridgwayi Ridgway, 1887.

other common names

English: Ridgway's cotinga; French: Cotinga turquoise; German: Ridgway-Kotinga; Spanish: Continga de Ridgway.

physical characteristics

Weight for this genus is around 2.5–2.8 oz (70–80 g). This species is starling-sized. Males are predominantly ultramarine-blue in color, with black on the wings and tail, and separate patches of violet on the throat and breast. Their subcutaneous and perivisceral fat often takes on the blue color of the berries they prefer.

distribution

This species is restricted to southwest Costa Rica, barely ranging into western Panama.

habitat

This species, like other members of this genus, can be found in canopies of lowland tropical evergreen forest. Additionally, it may be found in secondary forest. It may range up to 5,550 ft (1,850 m).

behavior

The quiet behavior of the members of this genus is in contrast with their vivid colors.

feeding ecology and diet

Fruit and berries are consumed, often "gorging" at a masting tree or bush such as mistletoe. The fruits are often plucked on

the wing. Although the seeds of larger species (e.g., mistletoe) might be regurgitated, smaller seeds are often swallowed. Insects are also taken.

reproductive biology

The mating system is not completely known within this group, although for the most part it appears that males display solitarily.

The nest is platform type, often high in a tree fork, or next to an epiphyte. The female incubates and cares for the young alone.

conservation status

Vulnerable, with habitat alteration due to agrarian encroachment being the principal threat. Its geographic range is estimated at 3,200 mi2 (8,400 km2). Its numbers are estimated at less than 10,000, with populations declining.

significance to humans

Several indigenous tribes use cotinga feathers in their ornamentation. One of the most frequently seen groups is Cotinga, which is commonly represented in costumes of certain Amazonian tribes. Perhaps as many as 10–15% of artifacts have Cotinga feathers, although the most commonly used feathers are those of Psittacids (Ara and Amazona).


Bare-necked umbrellabird

Cephalopterus glabricollis

taxonomy

Cephalopterus glabricollis Gould, 1861.

other common names

English: Bullbird; French: Coracine ombrelle; German: Nacktkehl-Schirmvogel; Spanish: Pájaro Paraguas de Cuello Desnudo.

physical characteristics

Umbrellabirds have sharp and powerful claws to secure good grips on branches during calling. This group comprises the largest of the cotingas, being about the size of a crow. As is the case with most cotingas, the females are smaller and less dramatic than the males in terms of ornamentation. The males in this group are entirely black, except for a red throat pouch in the male.

Additionally, their ornamentation and calls make umbrellabirds among the most unique of the cotingas. The head carries a canopy-like metallic glistening crest along its entire length; this crest projects over the tip of the heavy beak and is reminiscent of an umbrella, providing the name "umbrellabird." In addition, an apron-like feathered wattle hangs down from the breast. The much-widened trachea enables umbrella birds to utter "terrible roaring" sounds which have earned them the name of "bullbirds."

distribution

This species is restricted to the Caribbean slope and central highlands of Costa Rica and northeastern Panama. It ranges in the foothills at 330–6,600 ft (100–2,000 m).

habitat

Umbrellabirds usually inhabit the mid-level to upper story of tall trees.

behavior

The bare-necked umbrellabird leaves the breeding grounds in the highlands (2,600–6,600 ft [800–2,000 m]) in late July or August, returning there from the lowlands in March. The sexes are segregated between altitudes to some degree during the nonbreeding season, with males often found at 330–1,600 ft (100–500 m), and females found below 660 ft (200 m).

The call is a plaintive combination between a "roar" and bleating calf, often occurring in the morning or afternoon. Umbrellabirds have a very characteristic slow-flapping during flight with the crest laying flat. Once perched they will often hop clumsily from branch to branch. Animal prey is often beaten against a tree branch before swallowing

feeding ecology and diet

The umbrellabirds consume fruits such as berries and palms. They also eat nuts. Larger seeds of the fruits they consume are regurgitated. This helps regenerate the tropical forests they live in, as seeds of their preferred food plants are dispersed throughout the forests. Insects, larvae and some spiders are taken as well. Animal matter is consumed especially during the rainy season when fruits are more scarce.

reproductive biology

Nest is built above ground, often in fork of a tree, and constructed very roughly of loose twigs such that the single egg or chick can be seen from underneath.

conservation status

The bare-necked umbrellabird is considered Vulnerable. Global numbers are estimated at fewer than 10,000 individuals for the species, with populations declining.

The principal threat is habitat fragmentation. In Costa Rica this is manifested through conversion to banana plantations, cattle ranches and non-sustainable logging. Agrarian conversion is the main factor driving habitat destruction in northeastern Panama. The birds' geographic range is estimated at 4,600–5,800 mi2 (12,000–15,000 km2).

significance to humans

Various tribes may use the wattles for ornamentation in their artifacts.


Amazonian umbrellabird

Cephalopterus ornatus

taxonomy

Cephalopterus ornatus Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1809.

other common names

English: Fifebird, bullbird; French: Coracine ornée; German: Kurzlappen-Schirmvogel; Spanish: Pájaro Paraguas.

physical characteristics

Umbrellabirds have sharp and powerful claws to secure good grips on branches during calling. This group comprises the largest of the cotingas, being about the size of a crow. As is the case with most cotingas, the females are smaller and less dramatic than the males in terms of ornamentation. For example, the male Amazonian umbrellabird is 1.65 times the weight of females, with male weights ranging 1.5–1.6 lb (680–745 g). Both sexes are entirely black, and the male has a whitish eye.

distribution

This species is found in the western and central Amazonian basin, at lower elevations typically not exceeding 4,300 ft (1,300 m).

habitat

This species tends to be a riverine island specialist in the Amazonian lowlands, often associated with riverine vegetation (e.g., Cecropia). However, along the eastern fringe of the Andes, this species ranges up into montane evergreen forest, more similar to the primary habitat of the other species of umbrellabirds.

behavior

Unlike the other two species of umbrellabirds, the Amazonian species appears to be sedentary. The call is a plaintive combination between a "roar" and bleating calf, often occurring in the morning or afternoon. Umbrellabirds have a very characteristic slow-flapping during flight with the crest laying down flat. Once perched they will often hop clumsily from branch to branch. Animal prey is often beaten against a tree branch before swallowing

feeding ecology and diet

The umbrellabirds consume fruits such as berries and palm fruits and nuts. Larger seeds of the fruits they consume are regurgitated. This helps regenerate the tropical forests they live in, as seeds of their preferred food plants are dispersed throughout the forests. Insects, larvae and some spiders are taken as well. Animal matter is consumed especially during the rainy season when fruits are more scarce.

reproductive biology

Males are organized into widely spaced, exploded leks and may displace other males from calling perches.

The nest is platform type and built very roughly of loose twigs such that the single egg or chick can be seen from underneath. The nest is often located high in a tree fork. The single egg is 2.2 by 1.4 in (56 by 36 mm), oblong and rather pointed at one end, with khaki coloring with brownish spotting and stippling.

conservation status

Not threatened.

significance to humans

The head and beard ornamention are sometimes seen in Amazonian riverboats, but the associated belief is unknown. However, various tribes use the wattles for ornamentation in their artifacts.


Long-wattled umbrellabird

Cephalopterus penduliger

taxonomy

Cephalopterus penduliger Sclater, 1859.

other common names

English: Bullbird; French: Coracine casquée; German: Langlappen-Schirmvogel; Spanish: Pájaro Paraguas Caranculado.

physical characteristics

Umbrellabirds have sharp and powerful claws to secure good grips on branches during calling. This group comprises the largest of the cotingas, being about the size of a crow. As is the case with most cotingas, the females are smaller and less dramatic than the males in terms of ornamentation. The males are entirely black.

Wilhelm Meise describes them as follows: "The inflated throat sac, which looks somewhat like a pine cone with spread

scales, is moved to and fro like a pendulum; soft sounds are heard with this movement. With the utterance of the loud, low-pitched rumbling courtship call, the head is thrown back and the wattle swings forward.". The much-widened trachea enables umbrella birds to utter "terrible roaring" sounds which have earned them the name of "bullbirds."

distribution

This species is restricted to the Pacific slope from southwestern Colombia through Ecuador. They are found in the foothills between 460 and 5,900 ft (140–1,800 m).

habitat

Umbrellabirds usually inhabit the mid-level to upper story of tall trees.

behavior

This species may be an altitudinal migrant, but there are both highland and lowland populations known to be sedentary. The call is a plaintive combination between a "roar" and bleating calf, often occurring in the morning or afternoon. Males may displace other males from calling perches. Umbrellabirds have a very characteristic slow-flapping during flight with the crest laying down flat. Once perched they will often hop clumsily from branch to branch. Animal prey is often beaten against a tree branch before swallowing.

feeding ecology and diet

The umbrellabirds consume fruits such as berries and palm fruits and nuts. Larger seeds of the fruits they consume are regurgitated. This helps regenerate the tropical forests they live in, as seeds of their preferred food plants are dispersed throughout the forests. Insects, larvae and some spiders are taken as well. Animal matter is consumed especially during the rainy season when fruits are more scarce.

reproductive biology

The nest is platform type and built very roughly of loose twigs such that the single egg or chick can be seen from underneath. The nest is often located high in a tree fork.

conservation status

Vulnerable. Global numbers are estimated at less than 10,000 individuals for the species, with populations declining.

The long-wattled umbrellabird is threatened with deforestation and consequent habitat fragmentation. The habitat fragmentation is due to logging and agrarian development, such as livestock ranching, and oil palm and banana plantations. The geographic range of this species is estimated at 21,000 mi2 (54,000 km2).

significance to humans

Various tribes may use the wattles for ornamentation in their artifacts.


Andean cock-of-the-rock

Rupicola peruviana

taxonomy

Rupicola peruviana Latham, 1790.

other common names

French: Coq-de-roche péruvien; German: Andenklippenvogel; Spanish: Gallito de Rocas Peruano.

physical characteristics

Cocks-of-the-rock have sharp and powerful claws to secure good grips on branches during courtship. The pigeon-sized cocks-of-the-rock, with their teased-out feathers on the forehead, back and wings, have a particularly striking coloration. While the female is a drab brown color, the male's plumage is scarlet; the head is decorated with a helmet-like erect crest.

distribution

This species is distributed through the Andes from extreme western Venezuela through Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru to western Bolivia, ranging between 3,000 and 7,900 ft (900–2,400 m).

habitat

This species inhabits the lower to mid strata of tropical montane forest.

behavior

When flying, a loud "hissing" sound is produced from the modified remige of the wing tip. A spectacular array of vocalizations are produced, including different "popping" noised produced by snapping the bill. Unlike the Guianan cock-ofthe-rock (Rupicola rupicola), the Andean cock-of-the-rock will only dance in trees, rather than on the ground as well.

feeding ecology and diet

Like most cotingas, cocks-of-the-rock consume fruits primarily, but will consume more animal matter as fruits become scarce. Captive individuals are known to eat small lizards (Anolis sp.) and baby laboratory mice (Mus sp.).

reproductive biology

Nests, built by the female, are typically located near the male lekking grounds, and sometimes several females build nests

close to each other. The cup shaped nests are typically plastered to a damp rock face within crevices of cliffs or ravines, often over a stream. Unusual nesting sites have been discovered, such as under a well-trafficked bridge. The nest may weigh nearly 2.2 lb (1 kg), and is made of clay mixed with vegetable fibers and is often covered with lichens.

conservation status

While Andean cocks-of-the-rock are not listed as Threatened or Endangered, the Andes Mountains are the subject of significant deforestation. Additionally, quite a few individuals were taken during the 1900s for the live bird trade. However trade is much more restricted today.

significance to humans

Andean cock-of-the-rock is the national bird of Peru. Natives may eat these birds for food.


Guianan cock-of-the-rock

Rupicola rupicola

taxonomy

Rupicola rupicola Linnaeus, 1766.

other common names

French: Coq-de-roche orange; German: Cayenne Klippenvogel; Spanish: Gallito de Rocas Guayanés.

physical characteristics

While the female is a drab brown color, the male's plumage is a bright orange; the head is decorated with a helmet-like erect crest. The bright coloration is derived from zeaxanthin, the

same pigment found in corn (Zea mays), which it is named for. This pigmentation often fades rapidly in taxidermied specimens.

distribution

This species is found in northern Amazonia and the Guianan shield, from southeastern Colombia through southern Venezuela and northern Brazil, eastward through French Guiana. It is found at lower elevations, typically not exceeding 4,900 ft (1,500 m).

habitat

Lowland forest.

behavior

When flying, a loud "hissing" sound is produced from the modified remige of the wing tip. A spectacular array of vocalizations are produced, including different "popping" noised produced by snapping the bill. In the courtship season, males gather on rocks amid the foam of river rapids to display their colors in most unusual dances. Robert Schomburgk (1804–1865), the well-known South American traveler, described these dances as follows: "A whole troop of these wonderful birds was holding their dance on the smooth, flat upper surface of a tremendous rock. About twenty admiring observers, both males and females, sat on the bushes nearby while a male moved about over the top of the rock in every direction with some rather unusual movements. It would spread its wings, toss its head in every direction, scratch the rock with its primaries, and hop upwards at varying speeds, always from the same point; again it would fan out and erect its tail and once more walk about coquettishly with proud steps. When it seemed to be tired, it uttered a different phrase from the usual call and, flying to the nearest twig, it left its place on the rock to another male. After awhile, this second bird, having first demonstrated its grace and readiness to dance, gave way to a third male." Up to 50 males have been observed at a lek.

feeding ecology and diet

Like most cotingas, the cocks-of-the-rock consume fruits primarily, but will consume more animal matter as fruits become scarce.

reproductive biology

Polygynous. Nests are typically located near the male lekking grounds, and sometimes several females build nests close to each other. The cup shaped nests are typically plastered to a damp rock face within crevices of cliffs or ravines, often over a stream. The nest may weigh nearly 2.2 lb (1 kg), and is made of clay mixed with vegetable fibers and is often covered with lichens. The female lays two spotted brownish eggs, and the incubation period is 27–28 days. When the chicks hatch the males can be distinguished from females as their feet and bills are yellow and black, respectively.

conservation status

While neither species is listed as Threatened or Endangered, quite a few individuals were taken during the 1900s for the live bird trade. However, trade is much more restricted today.

significance to humans

Natives may eat cock-of-the-rock flesh. Because of their bright plumage, cocks-of-the-rock are hunted by men of numerous Indian tribes. The Emperor of Brazil had a mantle made of cock-of-the-rock feathers.


White bellbird

Procnias alba

taxonomy

Procnias alba Hermann, 1783.

other common names

French: Araponga blanc; German: Zapfenglöckner; Spanish: Campanero Blanco.

physical characteristics

The bellbirds are distinguished by compact bodies, flat beaks, short tarsi and a plumage of small feathers. Males have among the loudest calls of any birds. They are completely white, with a long inflatable, "horn-like" wattle on the head; the "horn" is covered with small white feathers which can be erected during display. Females, which are silent, are predominantly green and somewhat smaller.

distribution

This species is found in the Guiana Shield, ranging from 1,500 to 4,900 ft (450–1,500 m). It may be a local altitudinal migrant.

habitat

Bellbirds live in tropical lowland or montane evergreen rainforest.

behavior

They prefer high perches in the canopy, often on bare tree branches, which project above the crowns of surrounding trees. The calls sound as if an anvil were being struck with a hammer.

feeding ecology and diet

These birds feed on fruit. The short bills with a wide gape are adaptations for gorging on quantities of fruit.

reproductive biology

The nest is of sparse construction and is built on open branches. One or two eggs are laid per clutch. Female bellbirds care for the young alone, regurgitating fruit and cleaning the nest of fecal sacks and regurgitated seeds.

conservation status

Not threatened.

significance to humans

None known.


Bearded bellbird

Procnias averano

taxonomy

Procnias averano Hermann, 1783.

other common names

French: Araponga barbu; German: Flechtenglöckner; Spanish: Campanero Herrero.

physical characteristics

The bellbirds are distinguished by compact bodies, flat beaks, short tarsi and a plumage of small feathers. Male bellbirds have among the loudest calls of any birds. Males also differ from the females in their plumage coloration. The male has a bare throat with beard-like threads of skin set in bundles around the skin of the throat. Its head is brown, and the flight feathers and tail are black; the rest of the plumage is a

light pearl-gray. Females are predominantly green, and somewhat smaller.

distribution

This species is patchily distributed in the north-central Amazon and Guiana Shield, and is also found in northeastern Brazil. Although primarily a lowland species, it may range up to 6,200 ft (1,900 m).

habitat

Bellbirds live in tropical lowland or montane evergreen rainforest. They prefer high perches in the canopy, often on bare tree branches which project above the crowns of surrounding trees.

behavior

The far-reaching bell-like calls (often described as "bockk") of the males are characteristic of their jungle home. In display this species opens up its gape like a frog's mouth so that the threads of the "beard" (which are comparable to a wreath of tuning forks) reproduce its pure bell-like tones.

feeding ecology and diet

These birds feed on fruit. The short bills with a wide gape are adaptations for gorging on quantities of fruit.

reproductive biology

The nest is made of very little construction material, and is built on open branches. One or two eggs are laid per clutch. The female cares for the young alone, regurgitating fruit and cleaning the nest of fecal sacks and regurgitated seeds. The chicks leave the nest at 33 days, and take three years to come into full color.

conservation status

Not threatened.

significance to humans

None known.


Bare-throated bellbird

Procnias nudicollis

taxonomy

Procnias nudicollis Vieillot, 1817.

other common names

English: Naked-throated bird; French: Araponga à gorge nue; German: Nacktkehlglöckner; Spanish: Campanero de Garganta Desnuda.

physical characteristics

The bellbirds are distinguished by compact bodies, flat beaks, short tarsi and a plumage of small feathers. Male bellbirds have among the loudest calls of any birds. This species accomplishes this by having a very muscular syrinx, and filling the interclavicular air sacs. Males also differ from the females in their plumage coloration. The male is white, and is distinguished by bare wattles and a bare, inflatable throat skin of greenish color. Females are predominantly green, and somewhat smaller.

distribution

This species is found in the Atlantic rainforest belt of central Brazil through eastern Paraguay and northeastern Argentina, ranging up to 3,370 ft (1,150 m).

habitat

Bellbirds live in tropical lowland or montane evergreen rainforest. They prefer high perches in the canopy, often on bare tree branches, which project above the crowns of surrounding trees.

behavior

The far-reaching bell-like calls (often described as "bockk") of the males characterize their jungle home. Male bellbirds defend perches jealously against rivals, including other species of cotingas on occasion. For example, a bare-throated bellbird displaced a female white-winged cotinga Xipholena atropurpurea from a tree. While the species appears to be migratory in at least some regions, this apparently varies among populations. For example, the species appears to migrate in southeastern Brazil, be transient in northeastern Argentina, and resident in Paraguay.

feeding ecology and diet

These birds feed on fruit. The short bills with a wide gape are adaptations for gorging on quantities of fruit, such as (Rapanea ferruginea). This species has also been observed eating in a Cecropia tree.

reproductive biology

This species builds a shallow nest that is approximately 6.3 in (16 cm) across. The nest is made of very little construction material, and is built on open branches. One or two eggs are laid per clutch; the eggs are oval and reddish brown, with dark spots at the rounder end. Female cellbirds care for the young alone, regurgitating fruit and cleaning the nest of fecal sacks and regurgitated seeds.

conservation status

Near Threatened due to habitat fragmentation, development such as road building, and exploitation for the cage bird trade (especially in Brazil) being the main factors. The fragmentation is primarily due to agrarian conversion and deforestation for mining concessions. In all likelihood this species is declining

significance to humans

None known.


Three-wattled bellbird

Procnias tricarunculata

taxonomy

Procnias tricarunculata Verreaux and Verreaux, 1853.

other common names

French: Araponga tricarunculé; German: Hämmerling; Spanish: Procnias tricarunculata.

physical characteristics

Male is approximately 12 in (30 cm) long; female is approximately 10 in (25 cm). The plumage of the adult male is: chestnut brown, except for head, neck, and chest, which are white. The adult female is olive-green above; yellow underside striped with dark olive-green. They are famous not only because of the truly enchanting calls of the males, but also because of the inflatable skin appendages about the heads of the males.

distribution

This species is found in two patches in Middle America: eastern Honduras to northern Nicaragua, and the southern tip of Nicaragua through Costa Rica to central Panama. Although this species may be found up to 9,800 ft (3,000 m), it may locally migrate to the lowlands.

habitat

Bellbirds live in tropical lowland or montane evergreen rainforest. They prefer high perches in the canopy, often on bare tree branches, which project above the crowns of surrounding trees.

behavior

The far-reaching bell-like calls (often described as "bockk") of the males are characteristic of their jungle home. This species breeds in foothill and highland forest between 2,500 and 6,900 ft (750–2,100 m), though the lower elevation for breeding is typically 3,900 ft (1,200 m). The breeding season may occur from March through September, but this is variable. During the nonbreeding season extensive migrations are taken.

feeding ecology and diet

These birds feed on fruit. The short bills with a wide gape are adaptations for gorging on quantities of fruit, and has been seen regurgitating mistletoe with much effort.

reproductive biology

The nest is made of very little construction material, and is built on open branches. One or two eggs are laid per clutch. Female bellbirds care for the young alone, regurgitating fruit and cleaning the nest of fecal sacks and regurgitated seeds.

conservation status

Vulnerable, with habitat fragmentation due to logging, and conversion to banana plantations and cattle ranches, being the principal threats. Its geographic range is estimated at 9,000–44,000 mi2 (23,000–114,000 km2). Its numbers are estimated at less than 10,000, with populations declining.

significance to humans

None known.


Resources

Books

BirdLife International. Threatened Birds of the World. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, 2000.

Ridgely, Robert S., and Guy Tudor. The Birds of South America. Vol. 2, The Suboscine Passerines. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994.

Sick, Helmut. Birds in Brazil: A Natural History. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1993.

Snow, David W. The Cotingas. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1982.

Snow, David W. The Web of Adaptation: Bird Studies in the American Tropics. New York: Quadrangle Times Book Co., 1985.

Stotz, Douglas F., et al. Neotropical Birds: Ecology and Conservation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Periodicals

Berry, Robert J. and Rochelle Plasse. "Breeding the Scarlet Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicola peruviana) at the Houston Zoological Gardens." International Zoo Yearbook. 22 (1982): 171–175.

Brooks, Daniel M. "Comparative Life History of Cotingas in the Peruvian Amazon." Orn. Neotrop. 10 (1999): 193–206.

Cuervo, Andres M., et al. "A New Species of Piha (Cotingidae: Lipaugus) from the Cordillera Central of Colombia." Ibis 143 (2001): 353–368.

Jahn, Olaf, et al. "The Life-history of the Long Wattled Umbrellabird Cephalopterus penduliger in the Andean Foothills of North-west Ecuador: Leks, Behaviour, Ecology and Conservation." Bird Conservation International 9 (1999): 81–94.

Pacheco, José Fernando, and Paulo Sérgio Moreira da Fonseca. "The Remarkable Rediscovery of the Kinglet Calyptura Calyptura cristata." Cotinga 16 (2001): 44-47.

Sick, Helmut. "An Egg of the Umbrellabird." Wilson Bulletin 63 (1951): 338–339.

Snow, Betty K. "Notes on the Behavior of Three Cotingidae." Auk 78 (1961): 150–161.

Snow, David W. "The Classification of the Cotingidae" Breviora 409 (1973): 1–27.

Trail, Pepper W., and Paul Donahue. "Notes on the Behavior and Ecology of the Red-cotingas (Cotingidae: Phoenicircus)." Wilson Bulletin 103 (1991): 539–551.

von Hagen, Wolfgang. "On the Capture of the Umbrellabird (Cephalopterus penduliger Sclater)." Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (1937): 25–30.

Wallace, Alfred R. "On the Umbrellabird (Cephalopterus ornatus)." Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1849: 206–207.

Organizations

Neotropical Bird Club. c/o The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire SG19 2DL United Kingdom. E-mail: [email protected]

Daniel M. Brooks, PhD