Spix's Guan


Spix's Guan

Scientific Name

Cathartes aura


The Spix’s Guan is similar in appearance to a small, slender turkey. However, this tropical bird is in fact arboreal, spending most of its time in the canopy of subtropical rainforests. They are often seen running along high branches.

The Spix’s Guan’s unusual name comes from German naturalist, Johann Baptist von Spix, who obtained the first specimen of the bird in the 1800s. Most of these birds have a brownish-black speckled plumage. However, they also come in blue! Both male and females have a noticeable red hanging throat sack, called a dewlap.

Despite these unusual features, you are more likely to hear the Spix Guan before you see it. Its calls are a distinctive part of the Amazonian dawn chorus, sounding much like the yelp or bark of a small dog! They also give whistle-like calls when alarmed. If this isn’t noisy enough, you might also hear them rattling their wings. They do this by stretching out their wings and shaking them, mostly to attract mates.

Once they have found a lucky partner, their relationships are monogamous and both sexes will share responsibilities for rearing their chicks. The young can fly short distances within a few days of hatching, but will continue to be fed by their parents until mature


They feed mainly on seeds and the fruits of small palms and figs.

Size Fact

About 70cm in length, Spix’s Guan are like a smaller version of a turkey.

Food Fact

Our Spix Guan loves munching on seeds.

Fun Fact

Although the Spix’s Guan are not nocturnal, they are often heard making frightening, yelling noises on moonlit nights.

IUCN Red list

Not globally threatened, Least concern.

The Spix’s Guan is a fairly common species with a large range. However, populations have been decreasing in recent years, mostly because they are an easy, desirable target for hunters.

Where do I live?

Spix’s Guan thrive in the undisturbed, subtropical rainforests of Bolivia, Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Venezuela.

They favour mature, interior forests or moist, lowland forests.



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