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Northern Screamer Chauna chavaria
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species qualifies as Near Threatened because it has a moderately small and declining population; it almost meets the requirements for listing as threatened under criterion C2a(i).

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #

76-91 cm. Huge and heavy-bodied peculiar goose-like bird. Distinctive head pattern, with grey crown and shaggy crest. Broad white "chinstrap" across throat and sides of face, and black neck. Otherwise dull with grey underparts and dark glossed green upperparts. Sharp spurs on bend of wing. Very large reddish-pink legs, with unwebbed feet. Voice One of the loudest birds in the world, with powerful bugled klerr-a-ruk, cherio.

Distribution and population
This species occurs in north-west Venezuela (around Lago Maracaibo in Zuila, Mérida and Trujillo) (Meyer de Schauensee and Phelps 1978) and north Colombia (from the lower Atrato valley east to the Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta and the Cesar valley, and south in the middle Magdalena valley to south Bolívar) (Hilty and Brown 1986). The upper Cauca valley holds a tiny, isolated and apparently declining population (Naranjo 1986). Numbers had been estimated at c.2,000 individuals in Venezuela but are now thought to be <1,000, possibly as small as the low hundreds (C. J. Sharpe in litt. 2015). The total population has been estimated at 3,000-5,000 individuals (Callaghan in prep.). However, this may under-estimate the Colombian population, with c.5,000 or more birds perhaps a more accurate guess (Rodríguez and Rojas-Suárez 1995). The global population is estimated to be 2,500-9,999 individuals.

Population justification
The population estimate of 2,500-9,999 individuals is derived from P. G. W. Salaman in litt. (1999). This equates to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals. The population in Venezuela has been recently estimated at approximately <1,000 individuals (C. J. Sharpe in litt. 2015).

Trend justification
A slow and on-going population decline is suspected owing to habitat loss and possibly egg-collecting and hunting.

This species is restricted to lowland marshes, swamps, lagoons, the banks of slow-flowing rivers and seasonally flooded alluvial plains, often in areas surrounded by forest (del Hoyo et al. 1992). It is exclusively vegetarian, grazing the green parts of succulent aquatic plants (del Hoyo et al. 1992), although digging for unknown food items is regular (Naranjo 1986). The nest is a large mass of marsh vegetation built up from the water, and 2-7 eggs are laid mostly in October to November, but breeding continues throughout the year (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Home ranges of pairs and family groups in Valle del Cauca averaged 0.11 km2 on the edge of a lagoon (Naranjo 1986).

Loss of habitat owing to drainage of wetlands for cattle and agriculture is probably resulting in slow population declines (Callaghan in prep., Naranjo 1986), but is unlikely to affect seasonally flooded and deeper wetlands in the near future (P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999). Collection of eggs (A. Cuervo in litt. 1999), capture as pets (P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999, T. Donegan in litt. 2012, C. Ruiz in litt. 2012) and possibly illegal hunting in some areas, are unquantified threats (Callaghan in prep., C. Ruiz in litt. 2012). Construction of a pipeline and road through the wetlands of the Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta and Isla de Salamanca in the mid-1970s obstructed tidal flow and caused extensive mangrove die-back, continuing until at least 1992 (Wege and Long 1995). In the same area, there is domestic and industrial pollution and sewage, urbanisation and mangrove cutting. Hydroelectric schemes alter hydrological regimes which may impact on the species's habitat in some places.

Conservation and Research Actions Underway
It occurs in Salamanca National Park and Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta Flora and Fauna Sanctuary, Magdalena, Colombia, but these areas have now lost sizeable areas of habitat (Callaghan in prep., Wege and Long 1995). Other less damaged protected areas include Los Katios National Park, Chocó, Colombia (P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999) and Ciénagas de Juan Manuel, Aguas Blancas y Aguas Negras Faunal Reserve, Zulia, Venezuela (Rodríguez and Rojas-Suárez 1995, C. J. Sharpe, J. P. Rodríguez and F. Rojas-Suárez in litt. 1999)

Conservation and Research Actions Proposed
Census and monitor populations to assess the global population and demographic trends and to refine the distribution and locate strongholds (Rodríguez and Rojas-Suárez 1995, P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999, C. J. Sharpe, J. P. Rodríguez and F. Rojas-Suárez in litt. 1999). Investigate its ecology, threats and conservation requirements (Rodríguez and Rojas-Suárez 1995, C. J. Sharpe, J. P. Rodríguez and F. Rojas-Suárez in litt. 1999). Improve the management of protected areas that are suffering encroachment and degradation. Increase the area of suitable habitat that has protected status. Control pollution in the species's habitats. Raise awareness of the species and its status in an effort to reduce persecution.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A.; Sargatal, J. 1992. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 1: Ostrich to Ducks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Hilty, S. L.; Brown, W. L. 1986. A guide to the birds of Colombia. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Meyer de Schauensee, R.; Phelps, W. H. 1978. A guide to the birds of Venezuela. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Naranjo, L. G. 1986. Aspects of the biology of the Horned Screamer in southwestern Colombia. Wilson Bulletin 98: 243-256.

Rodríguez, J. P.; Rojas-Suárez, F. 1995. Libro Rojo de la fauna Venezolana. Provita, Caracas.

Wege, D. C.; Long, A. J. 1995. Key Areas for threatened birds in the Neotropics. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Capper, D., Isherwood, I., Pilgrim, J., Sharpe, C J, Stuart, T., Symes, A. & Ashpole, J

Cuervo, A., Salaman, P., Sharpe, C J, Diaz-Jaramillo, C., Stiles, F., Cortés, O., Ruiz, C. & Donegan, T.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Chauna chavaria. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Northern screamer (Chauna chavaria) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Anhimidae (Screamers)
Species name author (Linnaeus, 1766)
Population size 1500-7000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 91,700 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species