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What is a White-winged Guan

The White-winged Guan is endemic to the foothills of the Andean mountain range of the Tumbesina region in northwestern Peru, where it inhabits dry wooded slopes and ravines. This historic bird was first discovered in 1876, and this rare species was believed to have been extinct for nearly a century. However, the Peruvian Gustavo del Solar and the American biologist John O’Neill rediscovered the bird in 1977 in the rugged canyons of the Peruvian Andes.

Image credit Ebird

The White-winged Guan lives on dry wooded slopes and ravines from 300 to 900 meters in altitude. It prefers valleys with permanent water and dry deciduous forest with dense cover. It can frequent cultivated areas where it can find food. Formerly, this species was found in coastal forests and mangroves where it spent the warm hours of midday

This species inhabits areas of the departments of Lambayeque, Cajamarca, and Piura in northwestern Peru at elevations ranging from 300 to 1200 m.

White-winged Guan characteristics

The White-winged Guan has beautiful brown plumage with pale spots on the neck, upper back, and chest. They have bare gray skin around their eyes and face. They have bright red throat and jowls. The White-winged Guan has white flight feathers, hence the name.

This unusual bird, the size of a hen and very similar to a turkey, is typically found in pairs or small family groups. It is a territorial bird, especially during the breeding season, when it makes distinctive loud calls that can be heard up to two miles away. The white-winged guan feeds mainly on the vegetables (fruits, flowers, seeds, and leaves) of at least 34 species of dry forest trees and shrubs. It plays a key role in a healthy and balanced environment, promoting forest growth through seed dispersal.

White-winged Guan behavior

The White-winged Guan performs characteristic wing drumming flights early in the morning, hopping from perch to perch. Start your activities before sunrise and perform these flight displays in the dark, before sunrise. This behavior is closely related to the breeding season but can be observed sporadically throughout the year.

The White-winged Guan performs characteristic wing drumming flights early in the morning, hopping from branch to branch. Start your activities before sunrise and perform these flight displays in the dark, before sunrise. This behavior is closely related to the breeding season but can be observed sporadically throughout the year.

The drumming of the White-winged Guan is unique among the birds of the Cracidae family. This is a special flight. The bird perches defiantly in a tall tree. It flies and glides briefly in the open air, producing this wing buzz for about three seconds. This sound is the product of very fast wingbeats (twice as fast as in regular flights). Then it slides down to another tree branch, usually lower than the previous one.

After these exhibitions, the birds cool off at the bottom of the ravines where they live. They rest in a shady place when the temperature rises at noon and return to their foraging areas in the late afternoon. They perch in the trees, at a medium level, well hidden among the foliage. Their shelters may vary from day to day.

White-winged Guan egg production

White-faced birds lay 2 to 3 eggs. Incubation is generally done by the female while the male remains in the vicinity, watching for predators. Incubation lasts about four weeks.
The chicks are covered in an initial plumage yellowish and black on the upper part and paler on the lower part. They are precocious and leave the nest shortly after hatching. They are fed by both parents for the first few days, but they feed themselves progressively, although sometimes the parents provide them with some food.

White-winged Guan state of conservation

The white-winged guan was thought to be extinct for about 100 years. The species has been brought to the brink of extinction and is now found in relict populations in semi-humid deciduous forests in the Andes of Peru.

The decline of the white-winged guan and its near extinction was due to overhunting, which even today remains a serious threat to this species. Although conservation efforts have made some progress in stabilizing its population, the bird is classified as critically endangered, with an estimated population size of around 150 to 250 birds. In addition to hunting, the species is threatened by habitat destruction and fragmentation. According to the Alliance for Zero Extinction, it is possible that more than 90 percent of the original forest cover of the White-winged Guan’s habitat has already been deforested.

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