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Cauca Guan Penelope perspicax
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This species qualifies as Endangered. It has a very small known range in which severely fragmented habitat patches are declining. Its population is believed to be very small and divided into extremely small subpopulations which are suspected (as a result of ongoing habitat loss and hunting) to be declining.

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 cm. Medium-sized, drab cracid with bright red dewlap. Dull brownish-grey, with mainly chestnut rear parts and tail. Heavily whitish-scaled feather edges from head to mantle and breast. Similar spp. Crested Guan P. purpurascens is larger, with conspicuous streaked appearance (not scaled) and olive-brown rear parts. Andean Guan P. montagnii is smaller, with tiny dewlap, and much duller chestnut on lower back and wings. Voice Like other guans, loud, raucous honking, especially vocal during breeding season and when alarmed in groups.

Distribution and population
Penelope perspicax occurs on the west slopes of the West and Central Andes (Risaralda, Quindío, Valle del Cauca and Cauca), Colombia. Its current distribution is only 5% of its former range (Kattan et al. 2006). It was formerly considered mostly an east slope species in the West Andes (Hilty and Brown 1986), but the only records on this slope are apparently from Yotoco Forest Reserve (Silva Arias 1996) and Río Lima (both near low passes in Valle del Cauca), the south-east slope of Cerro Munchique, Cauca, and possibly those collected above Patía, Cauca, and at Clementina (an untraced locality). There are recent records from just four confirmed areas: Otún-Quindío , La Sirena, Yotoco and Chorro de Plata (Kattan et al. 2006). The Otún-Quindío Flora and Fauna Sanctuary, together with the Ucumarí Regional Park, constitute the global stronghold for the species, with the largest cluster of habitat blocks (Renjifo 1997-1998, Kattan et al. 2006). It is thought that historical factors or other non-autecological mechanisms (e.g. competition with other Penelopinae species) explain its restricted occurrence (Rios et al. 2008).

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 250-999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 375-1,499 individuals in total, rounded here to 350-1,500 individuals.

Trend justification
A slow and ongoing population decline is suspected based on ongoing rates of habitat loss and hunting pressure.

At 1,600-2,150 m, it appears mostly dependent on large, humid, primary forest fragments (P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999, 2000), but most recent records at 900-1,600 m have been from plantations of exotic broadleaf trees, secondary forest and forest edge (Silva Arias 1996). Breeding has been recorded in forest borders, mature secondary forest and in a Pinus plantation, and, in the north of its range, coincides with rainy periods of the year, September-October and February-March (Silva Arias 1996). The Cauca Guan is a generalist in habitat, diet and nest placement (Rios et al. 2008). It has a generalist frugivorous diet consisting of a wide variety of fruits, as well as insects, foliage and flowers. During periods of low fruit availability, guans relied on the young leaves of the exotic Chinese Ash Fraxinus chinensis, congregating in large groups of up to 30 individuals during November and December (Muñoz et al. 2007). This artificial habitat was used by guans for more than a quarter of the year (Rios et al. 2008).

It has suffered from severe loss of suitable habitat (almost total in the middle Cauca valley) over the period of human colonisation. Many of the localities, at least historical ones, are near the Buenaventura-Buga and Buenaventura-Cali roads, and are thus severely threatened by colonisation and associated deforestation (Salaman and Stiles 1996). Munchique National Park is subject to the same threats, as well as dam construction. The species is also hunted for food, even in some protected areas, although apparently not in Ucumarí (P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999, 2000). If it does occur in the relatively intact forests of the Pacific slope of Valle del Cauca and Cauca, then logging is a key threat (P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999, 2000). It is not clear which factors limit the distribution and population of this species but habitat fragmentation and hunting are likely to be the major threats (Rios et al. 2008).

Conservation Actions Underway
Ucumarí is contiguous with Los Nevados National Park, and it also occurs in the adjacent Otún-Quimbaya Flora and Fauna Sanctuary (Renjifo 1997-1998). Yotoco and Bremen (Quindío) Forest Reserves hold small populations (Renjifo 1997-1998). It has not been found in Munchique area since its detection just outside the national park (P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999, 2000).  Reasearch into captive breeding potential is underway (Londoño and Dominguez 2005).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey and estimate population sizes, especially in Ucumarí (Silva Arias 1996, P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999, 2000). Develop and implement an action plan for the species and its habitat (N. Gómez in litt. 1999, P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999, 2000) and extend captive breeding efforts.. Provide posters and resources for an educational programme about cracids, particularly aimed at limiting hunting (P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999, 2000).

Collar, N. J.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2013. Conservation breeding and avian diversity: chances and challenges. International Zoo Yearbook.

Collar, N. J.; Gonzaga, L. P.; Krabbe, N.; Madroño Nieto, A.; Naranjo, L. G.; Parker, T. A.; Wege, D. C. 1992. Threatened birds of the Americas: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, U.K.

Corredor Londoo, Germàn & Dominguez, Maria Clara. 2005. Research Centre for Conservation at Cali Zoo "CREA". Zoos and Aquariums Committing to Conservation 2005. Brevard Zoo.

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

Muñoz, M. C.; Londoño, G. A.; Rios, M. M.; Kattan, G. H. 2007. Diet of the Cuaca Guan: exploitation of a novel food source in times of scarcity. Condor 109: 841-851.

Renjifo, L. M. 1997-98. Notas sobre el estado de conservación de los cracidos y el efecto de fragmentación de bosques en una región subandina de Colombia. 7: 10-13.

Rios, M. M., Londoño, G. A., Muñoz, M. C., Kattan, G. H. 2008. Abundancia y endemismo en la pava Caucana (Penelope perspicax). Ornitología Neotropical 19 (Suppl.): 295–303.

Salaman, P. G. W.; Stiles, F. G. 1996. A distinctive new species of vireo (Passeriformes: Vireonidae) from the Western Andes of Colombia. Ibis 138: 610-619.

Silva Arias, L. 1996. Biologia de Penelope perspicax (Aves: Cracidae) en la reserva forestal de Yotoco, Valle del Cauca.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species account from the Threatened birds of the Americas: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 1992). Please note taxonomic treatment and IUCN Red List category may have changed since publication.

Detailed species account from the Threatened birds of the Americas: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 1992). Please note, taxonomic treatment and IUCN Red List category may have changed since publication.

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Recuento detallado de la especie tomado del libro Aves Amenazadas de las Americas, Libro Rojo de BirdLife International (BirdLife International 1992). Nota: la taxonomoía y la categoría de la Lista Roja de la UICN pudo haber cambiado desde esta publicación.

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

Text account compilers
Symes, A., Benstead, P., Symes, A., Sharpe, C J

Gomez, N., Salaman, P.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Penelope perspicax. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016.

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 - Cauca guan (Penelope perspicax) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, Curassows)
Species name author Bangs, 1911
Population size 250-999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 560 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species