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Spix’s Guan

Fact File

Continent: South America
Habitat: Rainforest
Weight and Length: 1.2kg, 0.7m

Diet: Herbivore
Incubation: About 4 weeks.
Number of Young: 3

Conservation Status: LC


  • Is a tree-dwelling bird
  • They call often at night, making them easy hunting targets.
  • They also make noise with their wings, shaking them.
  • Are thought to be mostly solitary.

Spix's Guan

Penelope jacquacu

Animals —  Aves (birds) — Galliformes (Chickens & relatives) — Cracidae (guans & relatives)

Spix’s guans area medium sized “guan”, which is a particular type of bird, similar in looks to a wild turkey, native to Central and South America. They are dark brown to black with white ticking, black skin and a bald patch around the eye. They have black beaks and pinkish legs, and a recognisable red wattle on the neck.

This species makes a few unusual sounds. They perform “wing-rattling” at dawn and dusk, shaking their wings as they glide to produce noise, and they make a sound similar to yelping at night.

They are classified as “least concern” as they have a large range. They survive well in protected areas but overall the population may be falling. This is likely as they are easy targets for hunters.

Habitat: Rainforest

Vital Statistics:
–Average weight: 1.2kg
–Average length: 0.7m

Life Expectancy:
In the wild up to: unknown
In captivity up to: unknown

Diet: They are herbivores and so eat plants. They particularly seem to prefer fruit.

Distribution: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Venezuela.

How we are Protecting Wild Animals
Throughout most of tropical America large macaws have suffered major population declines as a result of habitat loss and poaching for the pet trade.

The Tambopata Macaw Project is a long term research project, which studies the behaviour, ecology and diet of wild parrots and macaws. The research includes monitoring of home range and habitat use, using GPS surveillance technology, and the study of breeding behaviour through the use of specially designed bird nest boxes with the inclusion of remote cameras.

The project also works to protect the forest – in particular the bird’s nesting and feeding sites. This is largely done by promoting ecotourism in the area – this boosts funds and awareness for the local wildlife as well as providing higher security from illegal logging and poaching.

The information our scientists have uncovered so far has been invaluable to the care and protection of these threatened species, both in this area and across the globe.

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