Andean cock-of-the-rock

The Andean cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruvianus), also known as tunki (Quechua),[2] is a large passerine bird of the cotinga family native to Andean cloud forests in South America. It is widely regarded as the national bird of Peru. It has four subspecies and its closest relative is the Guianan cock-of-the-rock.

The Andean cock-of-the-rock exhibits marked sexual dimorphism; the male has a large disk-like crest and scarlet or brilliant orange plumage, while the female is significantly darker and browner. Gatherings of males compete for breeding females with each male displaying its colourful plumage, bobbing and hopping, and making a variety of calls. After mating, the female makes a nest under a rocky overhang, incubates the eggs, and rears the young by herself.

The Andean cock-of-the-rock eats a diet of fruit, supplemented by insects, amphibians, reptiles, and smaller mice. It is distributed all across the cloud forest of the Andes, having a range of around 260,000 km2 (100,000 sq mi). Even though it is being affected by destruction of its habitat, the Andean cock-of-the-rock is not classified as threatened.

Andean cock-of-the-rock
Rupicola peruviana (male) -San Diego Zoo-8a
Male (nominate)
Female Andean Cock-of-the-Rock
Female (nominate)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Cotingidae
Genus: Rupicola
R. peruvianus
Binomial name
Rupicola peruvianus
(Latham, 1790)

Taxonomy and etymology

One of two species in the genus Rupicola, the other being the Guianan cock-of-the-rock, the Andean cock-of-the-rock was first described by English ornithologist John Latham in 1790. It is classified in the Cotingidae, a family of largely frugivorous tropical forest suboscine passerines. The generic name is derived from the Latin stems rupes "rock" or "cliff", and cola "inhabiting",[3] and is derived from its habit of nesting in rock walls. Its specific epithet peruvianus "of Peru" is masculine despite the -a ending of the genus name (in Latin, names in -cola were masculine or neuter); peruviana is seen in older works.[4]

Four subspecies are known:[5]


Rupicola peruvianus -Cincinnati Zoo, Ohio, USA -male-8a
Immature male at the Cincinnati Zoo, USA

The Andean cock-of-the-rock is a large passerine, approximately 32 cm (13 in) long and weighing around 265 grams (9.3 oz; 0.584 lb), although males are somewhat larger and the heaviest specimens can reach 300 grams (11 oz; 0.66 lb). The bird is one of many bird species to exhibit marked sexual dimorphism. The male has a large disk-like crest and brilliant scarlet or orange plumage. It has black tail and wings, and pale greyish scapulars. The female is significantly drabber and browner than the male and has a less prominent crest. The bill is yellowish in the male, and dark with a small yellow tip in the female. Depending on gender and subspecies there are significant variations in the color of the iris, ranging from red over orange and yellow to bluish-white in the male, and whitish over reddish to brown in the female.[6] In addition to the display calls described in the breeding section below, foraging birds give a loud querulous “tank?” when disturbed or in flight.[7][8]

Distribution and habitat

The Andean cock-of-the-rock is distributed in cloud forests of the Andes. It lives in a large range of about 260,000 km2 (100,000 sq mi) across Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Perú, and Bolivia,[1] mostly in ravines and forested streams in montane areas at 500 to 2,400 m (1,600 to 7,900 ft) elevation. It typically stays in the lower and middle forest levels, but will range higher in fruiting trees and will sometimes enter and cross clearings. It is generally shy and inconspicuous, often seen only briefly after being flushed out or while swiftly flying down a valley.[7]

R. p. aequatorialis is the most widespread subspecies, ranging across the Andes of East Columbia to West Venezuela, East Ecuador and East Peru. The nominate subspecies, R. p. peruvianus has a small range stretching only through the Andes of Central Peru. R. p. sanguinolentus ranges throughout the Andes in West Columbia to Northwest Ecuador. The subspecies R. p. saturatus has a range across Southeast Peru and West Bolivia.[9]


Food and feeding

The diet consists mainly of fruit and insects, although small reptiles and frogs have been recorded.[10] The fruits consumed are often from the plant families Lauraceae, Annonaceae, and Rubiaceae, although a few other plant families have also been reported in their diet.[8] They are one of many species recorded following army ants.[11] They occasionally will eat high protein fruits, but they prefer to eat the other fruits on their menu.[8]


Tunki Tanpupata
Detail of the male head plumage

Male cocks-of-the-rock are polygamous, and have nothing to do with nesting once mating is done. The male’s energy instead is devoted to very elaborate display rituals that show off its magnificent plumage. These displays take place in communal leks, where males gather to challenge rivals and beckon the females.[6] The males are easily disturbed, so their behavior is not easy to see.[7] One study reported that the display activity is dependent on light intensity, with the morning display period occurring during the same light intensity level as the afternoon period.[12]

Andean Cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruviana) - male -collage of 3
Male Andean cock-of-the-rock choosing the best lekking position

At the lek, males have been observed to break up into pairs, performing “confrontation displays”. This consists of facing each other while bowing, jumping, and flapping their wings, sometimes even snapping their bills, and at the same time giving off various squawking and grunting calls. When the female approaches, it becomes even more intense. The display turns into a cacophony of bright color and a frenzied activity filling the air with very strange sounds.[7]

Breeding takes place during different times of year in different areas. In Colombia, breeding normally happens in February until July. In Ecuador, the breeding interval spans from July until February.[13]


The nests, built entirely by the female, are mud plastered to cave entrances or rocky outcrops in forest ravines.[14] The nests are often constructed from the saliva of the females mixed in with vegetable matter and mud.[8][13] The nest is shaped like a concave cup.[13] The female typically lays two white eggs.[15] The females incubates these eggs for about 25 to 28 days.[8]

Impact on environment

Andean cocks-of-the-rocks influence the environment around them. It was found that a white-capped dipper renovated an abandoned cock-of-the-rock nest to lay its eggs in. Cock-of-the-rocks also change the surrounding flora through seed dispersal. Seeds that the birds ingest often are found deposited around lek and nesting sites. This favors the germination and growth of those seeds. The diversity of these types of seeds has been found to be increased at lek and nests and decreased throughout the surrounding forest.[16]


Andean cocks-of-the-rock face slightly larger predators than smaller songbirds. Predators are attracted to leks by the conspicuous behavior of the displaying males. The animals reported to prey on adult cocks-of-the-rock including hawk-eagles, hawks, forest-falcons, jaguar, mountain lion, ocelot and the boa constrictor.[16]

Relationship with humans

The Andean cock-of-the-rock is regarded as the national bird of Peru.[6] Juveniles and adults have occasionally been used as pets.[17]


The worldwide population size and trends in population numbers have not been determined, but is it believed that the Andean cock-of-the-rock is not threatened. The species is evaluated as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species despite habitat destruction. It is patchily distributed, but its range is large enough to sustain it at a Least Concern status.[1][8]


  1. ^ a b c BirdLife International (2012). "Rupicola peruvianus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ Diccionario Quechua - Español - Quechua, Academía Mayor de la Lengua Quechua, Gobierno Regional Cusco, Cusco 2005 (Quechua-Spanish dictionary)
  3. ^ Simpson, D.P. (1979). Cassell's Latin Dictionary (5th ed.). London: Cassell Ltd. p. 883. ISBN 0-304-52257-0.
  4. ^ David, N.; Gosselin, M. (2002). "The grammatical gender of avian genera". Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club. 122 (4): 257–282.
  5. ^ "Zoological Nomenclature Resource: Psittaciformes (Version 9.005)". 18 December 2008.
  6. ^ a b c Bostwick, K.S. (2004). del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A.; Christie, D.A. (eds.). Andean Cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruvianus). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 9. Cotingas to Pipits and Wagtails. Barcelona: Lynx Editions. pp. 107–108. ISBN 84-87334-69-5.
  7. ^ a b c d Ridgely, Robert S.; Tudor, Guy (1994). The Birds of South America: The Suboscine Passerines. University of Texas Press. pp. 778–779. ISBN 0-19-857218-2.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Begazo, A.; Farrow-Johnson (2012). Schulenberg, T.S. (ed.). "Andean Cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruvianus)". Ithaca, NY, US: Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Neotropical Birds Online.
  9. ^ "Rupicola peruvianus". Avibase.
  10. ^ Lopes, Leonardo E.; Fernandes, Alexandre M.; Marini, Miguel Â. (2005). "Predation on vertebrates by Neotropical passerine birds" (PDF). Lundiana. Instituto de Ciências Biológicas - UFMG. 6 (1): 57–66.
  11. ^ Rios, Margarita; Londoño, Gustavo; Biancucci, Luis (2008). "Notes on birds that follow army ants in the northern Andes" (PDF). Ornitologia Neotropical. The Neotropical Ornithological Society. 19: 137–142.
  12. ^ Hill, Geoffrey E.; McGraw, Kevin J. (2006). Bird Coloration. Harvard University Press. p. 159. ISBN 978-0-674-01893-8.
  13. ^ a b c Janni, O.; Boano, G.; Pavia, M.; Gertosio, G. (2008). "Notes on the breeding of birds in Yanachaga-Chemillén National Park, Peru". Cotinga. 30: 42–46.
  14. ^ Hilty, Steven L.; Brown, Bill; Brown, William L. (1986). A Guide to the Birds of Colombia. Princeton University Press. p. 440. ISBN 978-0-691-08372-8.
  15. ^ Reina, Ruben; Reina, E. (1991). The Gift of Birds. UPenn Museum of Archaeology. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-924171-12-3.
  16. ^ a b "Rupicola peruvianus". Ecology.Info.
  17. ^ BirdLife species factsheet for Rupicola peruvianus

External links

Bolivian Yungas

The Bolivian Yungas is a tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion in the Yungas of central Bolivia and eastern Peru.


The cocks-of-the-rock, which compose the genus Rupicola, are large cotingid birds native to South America. They are found in tropical and subtropical rainforests close to rocky areas, where they build their nests. The genus is composed of only two known extant species: the Andean cock-of-the-rock and the smaller Guianan cock-of-the-rock. The Andean cock-of-the-rock is the national bird of Peru.Both known species exhibit sexual dimorphism: the males are magnificent birds, not only because of their bright orange or red colors, but also because of their very prominent fan-shaped crests. Like some other cotingids, they have a complex courtship behavior, performing impressive lek displays. The females are overall brownish with hints of the brilliant colors of the males. Females build nests on rocky cliffs or large boulders, and raise the young on their own. They usually lay two or three eggs.

Except during the mating season, these birds are wary animals and difficult to see in the rainforest canopy. They primarily feed on fruits and berries and may be important dispersal agents for rainforest seeds.


The cotingas are a large family, Cotingidae, of suboscine passerine birds found in Central America and tropical South America. Cotingas are birds of forests or forest edges, that are primary frugivorous. They all have broad bills with hooked tips, rounded wings, and strong legs. They range in size from 12–13 cm (4.7–5.1 in) of the fiery-throated fruiteater (Pipreola chlorolepidota) up to 48–51 cm (19–20 in) of the Amazonian umbrellabird (Cephalopterus ornatus).

Cuispes District

Cuispes is one of the 12 districts of the province of Bongará, located in the Amazonas Region in the north of Peru.It is bordered to the north by the District of Florida; to the east by the District of Jumbilla; to the south by the District of San Carlos; and to the west by the District of Shipasbamba.

It is part of the Diocese of Chachapoyas.

Cutervo National Park

Cutervo National Park (Spanish: Parque Nacional de Cutervo), established in 1961, is the oldest protected area in Peru. It is located in the northern Peruvian Andes, in the region of Cajamarca. The park was extended to 8,214 hectares (31.71 sq mi) and protects areas of Andean montane forests and paramo for headwater conservation. Moreover, those areas are the habitat of animal species like the spectacled bear, the mountain tapir, and the oilbird; and plant species like the Andean wax palms.

Farallones del Citará

The Farallones del Citará are situated in the mountains of southwest Antioquia, Colombia, only miles from the border with neighboring Chocó. The area contains two rivers, the Citará river and the Atrato river.

The chain of mountains in the Farallones de Citará are part of a protected forest reserve that comprises more than 75,000 acres of land, including approximately 45,000 virgin forests, 30,000 of which are in a government designated buffer zone to protect from human deforestation. Nonetheless there are also human settlements as well as eco-friendly tourism services in the area.

The elevation of the mountains varies, to a maximum of 12,800 feet above sea level. The region has many native bird species, most notably the chestnut-bellied flowerpiercer and Andean cock-of-the-rock.

The Farallones del Citará are found approximately 10 miles southwest of Ciudad Bolívar, Antioquia, and most excursions into the southwestern mountains begin there.

Fauna of Colombia

The fauna of Colombia is characterized by a high biodiversity, with the highest rate of species by area unit worldwide.

Guianan cock-of-the-rock

The Guianan cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola rupicola) is a species of cotinga, a passerine bird from South America. It is about 30 centimetres (12 in) in length and weighs about 200 to 220 grams (7.1 to 7.8 oz). It is found in tropical rainforests, near its preferred habitat of rocky outcrops. The female's plumage is brownish / dark smokey grey in colour, and generally less noticeable coloured than the males because of their nesting work in rocky areas. The male's feathers are a bright orange. Both have a heavy body, broad based bill and wear a remarkable half-moon crest on the head. It is one of two species of the genus Rupicola, the other being the Andean cock-of-the-rock. The Guianan cock-of-the-rock lives across the forested region of northeastern South America. Its diet consists mostly of fruit, but sometimes includes small snakes and lizards.

The female Guianan cock-of-the-rock breeds in the early months of the year and, on average, lays her eggs around March. The females choose a mate by flying down to the ground and pecking the male on his rump. The male then turns around and the mating takes place almost immediately. During the height of the mating season, males engage in competitive displays in lek, which is a complex courting behaviour that is done to attract females. Males and females live separately except when the females choose a mate. The mating success varies based on multiple factors, ranging from the plumage exhibited by a male to the composition of the lek itself. There is speculation that the male-to-male competition is an important factor in lek formation and breeding. The main predators of the Guianan cock-of-the-rock are harpy eagles and black-and-white hawk-eagles.

List of national birds

This is a list of national birds. Most species in the list are officially designated. Some species hold only an "unofficial" status.

Manú National Park

Manu National Park (Spanish: Parque Nacional del Manu) is a national park and biosphere reserve located in the regions of Madre de Dios and Cusco in Peru. It protects diverse ecosystems such as lowland rainforests, cloud forests and Andean grasslands.

Pampa Hermosa National Sanctuary

Pampa Hermosa National Sanctuary (Spanish: Santuario Nacional Pampa Hermosa) is a protected area in Peru located in the region of Junín. It preserves one of the last pristine areas of montane forests in central Peru.

Peruvian Yungas

The Peruvian Yungas is a tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion in the Yungas of Peru.

Refugio Paz de Las Aves

The Refugio Paz de Las Aves (meaning: Peace of the Birds sanctuary) is a 25-hectare (62-acre) private nature reserve in the western foothills of the Ecuadorian Andes. It is located near the equator at 1,969 metres' (6,460 ft) altitude, between Mindo parish and Nanegalito. Besides grassland and secondary forest, 10 ha of the area is covered by primary forest on steep inclines, that is protected by the owners.It is regularly visited by nature loving tourists and birdwatchers due to the ease with which some deep forest species may be observed here. six antpitta species are present (giant, yellow-breasted, moustached, Chestnut-crowned antpitta, Scaled antpitta and ochre-breasted antpittas), which the owners can locate without the use of sound playback. An Andean cock-of-the-rock lek was discovered in 2005, and dark-backed wood-quail and lyre-tailed nightjar are other specialties. Hummingbird feeders have been placed at the edge of the forest.


Sangay (also known as Macas, Sanagay, or Sangai) is an active stratovolcano in central Ecuador. It is the most active volcano in Ecuador, despite erupting only three times in recorded history, because the eruption that started in 1934 is still ongoing. It exhibits mostly strombolian activity. Geologically, Sangay marks the southern boundary of the Northern Volcanic Zone, and its position straddling two major pieces of crust accounts for its high level of activity. Sangay's approximately 500,000-year-old history is one of instability; two previous versions of the mountain were destroyed in massive flank collapses, evidence of which still litters its surroundings today.

Due to its remoteness, Sangay hosts a significant biological community with fauna such as the mountain tapir, giant otter, Andean cock-of-the-rock and king vulture. Since 1983, its ecological community has been protected as part of the Sangay National Park. Although climbing the mountain is hampered by its remoteness, poor weather conditions, river flooding, and the danger of falling ejecta, the volcano is regularly climbed, a feat first achieved by Robert T. Moore in 1929.

Siecha Lakes

The Siecha Lakes are three glacial lakes located in the Chingaza Natural National Park in Cundinamarca, Colombia. The Andean lakes are considered sacred in the religion of the Muisca who inhabited the area before the Spanish conquest of the Muisca in the 1530s.


Thelazia is a genus of nematode worms which parasitize the eyes and associated tissues of various bird and mammal hosts, including humans. They are often called "eyeworms", and infestation with Thelazia species is referred to as "thelaziasis" (occasionally spelled "thelaziosis"). Adults are usually found in the eyelids, tear glands, tear ducts, or the so-called "third eyelid" (nictitating membrane). Occasionally, they are found in the eyeball itself, either under the conjunctiva (the membrane that covers the white part of the eye) or in the vitreous cavity of the eyeball. All species of Thelazia for which the life cycle has been studied are transmitted by species of Diptera (flies) which do not bite, but which feed on tears.


Tunquiorjo (possibly from Quechua tunki Andean cock-of-the-rock, urqu mountain, "Andean cock-of-the-rock mountain") is a mountain in the Andes of Peru, about 4,200 m (13,800 ft) high. It is located in the Cusco Region, La Convención Province, Huayopata District, and in the Urubamba Province, Machupicchu District. Tunquiorjo lies in the northwestern extensions of the Urubamba mountain range, northeast of the archaeological site of Machu Picchu.

Wildlife of Peru

Peru has some of the greatest biodiversity in the world because of the presence of the Andes, Amazon Rainforest, and the Pacific Ocean.

Yumbilla Falls

Yumbilla Falls is the name of a waterfall located near the town of Cuispes, in the northern Peruvian region of Amazonas. It is considered the world's fifth tallest waterfall, becoming internationally known since late 2007 due to a geographical survey conducted by the Geographical Institute of Peru (IGN).

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