email a friend
printable version
Chestnut-bellied Guan Penelope ochrogaster
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

This species is listed as Vulnerable because its small population and range are continuing to decrease owing to continuing habitat loss, with additional pressures from hunting.

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: #

67-77 cm. Medium-sized, brownish cracid. Pale brown head, becoming darker brown on upperparts, wings and tail. Chestnut-rufous underparts, brighter on belly. White flecking from upper breast to mid-belly and on wing-coverts. Whitish supercilium contrasts with dark eyebrow, which extends around auricular and throat. Dusky facial skin. Red-orange throat and dewlap. Similar spp. Rusty-margined Guan P. superciliaris is smaller with unstreaked wing-coverts and browner belly. Voice Raven-like cry reported. Harsh, loud alarm calls.

Distribution and population
Penelope ochrogaster occurs in the "cerrado" (tropical savanna) and northern Pantanal of Brazil (P. de T. Z. Antas in litt. 2012). There are three disjunct populations, one occurring in the Pantanal, another in central Brazil and the third along the São Francisco River (Antas 2006). The largest population is that in the Pantanal (P. de T. Z. Antas in litt. 2012). There had been no records from the São Francisco River since 1913, until the species was observed twice on one of its tributaries in a 1998-2007 survey (Faria et al. 2009). It is moderately common in Poconé, Mato Grosso, including the SESC Pantanal Private Natural Heritage Reserve (P. de T. Z. Antas in litt. 2012); along the Araguaia north of Ilha do Bananal, and along the Paranã, Tocantins (F. Olmos in litt. 2007), where it has been rediscovered within the Cantão State Park. However, the extraordinary paucity of historical and recent records suggests that elsewhere it is highly localised. Moreover, the concentration of recent records suggests that it may have been extirpated throughout much of its formerly large range.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 1,000-2,499 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 667-1,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 600-1,700 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Trends appear to be "fairly stable", but some decline is suspected on the basis of large scale habitat loss/degradation and hunting pressure (P. de T. Z. Antas in litt. 2012).

In the north Pantanal, it inhabits "cordilheira" (high-ground) forest, and particularly semi-deciduous gallery forest with a continuous canopy of 15-20 m. These forests are rich in woody lianas (mainly Sapindaceae and Bignoniaceae) along the edges, with a relatively open undergrowth except for occasional dense patches of terrestrial bromeliads. It presumably feeds mostly on fruit, but during the dry season (between May and September) is possibly heavily dependent on the flowers of Tabebuia trees (Olmos 1998).

Habitat loss for new cattle pastures and small-scale agriculture is the major threat in Poconé, where hunting is rare or non-existent. Tabebuia trees are cut to rebuild bridges along the Transpantaneira road each year after the floods (Olmos 1998). Elsewhere, it has presumably suffered from massive habitat loss and hunting for food. Large areas of central Brazil have been converted to plantations of eucalyptus, soybeans and pastures for exportable crops (Stotz et al. 1996, Parker and Willis 1997). Much of this destruction has occurred since 1950, and has been encouraged by government land reform initiatives (Parker and Willis 1997).

Conservation Actions Underway
It is protected under Brazilian law, and has been recorded around the periphery of Pantanal National Park and Araguaia National Park. It is found in Cantão State Park and is fully protected within the SESC Pantanal Private Natural Heritage Reserve (P. de T. Z. Antas in litt. 2012). Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey to assess the species's current range and ascertain its occurrence in Araguaia National Park, where there has not been comprehensive recent work and there is a record of an unidentified Penelope species dating from the late 1990s. Protect populations in Poconé from further habitat loss. Consider the development of sustainable forestry practices to supply materials for bridge repairs on the Transpantaneira road. Encourage sustainable forestry practices among the cattle-grazing community. Support the proposal for a national park in the Rio Paraguaizinho Basin (P. de T. Z. Antas in litt. 2012). 

Antas, P. de T. Z. 2006. Penelope ochrogaster. In: Brooks, D. M. (ed.), Conserving cracids: the most threatened family of birds in the Americas, pp. 75-78. Houston Museum of Natural Science, Houston.

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.

Faria, L. C. P.; Carrara, L. A.; Amaral, F. Q.; de Vasconcelos, M. F.; Diniz, M. G.; Encarnação, C. D.; Hoffmann, D.; Gomes, H. B.; Lopes, L. E.; Rodrigues, M. ;. 2009. The birds of Fazenda Brejão: a conservation priority area of cerrado in northwestern Minas Gerais, Brazil. Biota Neotropica 9(3): 223-240.

Olmos, F. 1998. The Chestnut-bellied Guan (Penelope ochrogaster) in the Northern Patanal of Poconé, Matto Grosso, Brazil. 6: 5-10.

Olmos, F. 2003. Chestnut-bellied Guan Penelope ochrogaster in the Araguaia Valley, Tocantins, Brazil. Cotinga 20: 64-65.

Parker, T. A.; Willis, E. O. 1997. Notes on three tiny grassland flycatchers, with comments on the disappearance of South American fire-diversified savannas. Ornithological Monographs 48: 549-555.

Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W.; Parker, T. A.; Moskovits, D. K. 1996. Neotropical birds: ecology and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Tocantins, G. Do E. Do. 2000. Parque Estadual do Cantao: Avaliaçao Ecológica Rápida.

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
Benstead, P., Symes, A., Sharpe, C J, Capper, D., Symes, A., Khwaja, N.

Olmos, F., Antas, P.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Penelope ochrogaster. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016.

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 - Chestnut-bellied guan (Penelope ochrogaster) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, Curassows)
Species name author Pelzeln, 1870
Population size 600-1700 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 5,100 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species