Friday, 21 October 2011

Long-wattled umbrellabird

Cephalopterus penduliger

(Photo from Flickr)

Common name:
long-wattled umbrellabird (en); anambé-papudo (pt); coracine casquée (fr); paragüero corbatudo (es); langlappen-schirmvogel (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Cotingidae

This South American species is only found in the Pacific slopes and adjacent lowlands of south-west Colombia and western Ecuador.

These birds are 38-51 cm long and have a wingspan of 66-71 cm. They weigh 320-570 g.

The long-wattled umbrellabird is found in both humid and wet forests, but also in second growth areas, appearing to be somewhat tolerant of degraded habitats and human activity. They are present at altitudes of 80-1.800 m.

This species often eats fruits and seeds, being an important seed disperser within its range. They also eat amphibians, snakes, Anolis spp. lizards, spiders and various insects including butterflies and caterpillars, cicadas, grasshoppers and walking sticks.

These birds possibly breed all year round, with males forming leks where they perform elaborate displays using their crest and their huge wattle and making grunting vocalisations to attract a mate. After mating, the female is solely responsible for building the nest, incubating the eggs and brooding the chicks. The nest is an open, bulky cup made of dry sticks and lined with thinner twigs, epiphyte roots, tree fern twigs and mosses, placed at the top of a tree fern Cyathea sp. There the female lays 1 whitish egg with brown speckles, which she incubates for 27-28 days. The chick fledges 8-10 weeks after hatching.

IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
This species has a small and fragmented breeding range and a global population estimated at 10.000-20.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be facing a rapid and on-going decline. The main threats to this species are the high hunting pressure and the rapid habitat loss caused by deforestation. The intensive agricultural development, especially oil palm and banana plantations and livestock-farming, together with the rapid expansion of the road network, illegal coca plantations and gold mining are the main drivers of the current rate of habitat loss.

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