23 junio, 2024

Cock of the Rock: what it is, characteristics, habitat, reproduction

What is the cock of the rock?

He cock of the rocks (Rupicola peruvianus) It is a bird belonging to the Cotingidae family that is found in the Andean-Amazonian region of South America. The male’s plumage is bright red or orange, with a fan-shaped crest. The female is brown, with a smaller crest.

It is the national bird of Peru, where it also receives the Quechua name of tunki. This animal is distributed in the cloud forests of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.

Their diet is based on insects and a great diversity of fruits, which are abundant in their habitat. However, they can occasionally eat some reptiles and amphibians.

The males spend most of their time displaying themselves in the lek (Scandinavian name given to certain places in the forests), where they dance, jump and make very particular sounds.

This majestic show is carried out with the intention of finding a partner and demonstrating their dominance before the other males in the group.

Characteristics of the cock of the rock

Crest

– On the head, both the male and the female have a crest that unfolds from the beak. The feathers that form it are in two rows. These are always expanded and erect, like a kind of semicircular slice or disk.

– In males, the crest is bright red or orange and measures approximately 4.62 centimeters. In females it reaches 2.55 centimeters and has brown tones.

beak and legs

– The peak of Rupicola peruvianus it is short and its legs are strong. In males, the beak can be yellowish or orange, and its legs yellow.

– The beak of the females is dark in color, with a slight pale spot on the tip. The legs are brown, although in some species a grayish tone could be observed.

sexual dimorphism

– The cock of the rock is a species of bird that exhibits a marked difference between males and females in their body size and in the coloration of their feathers.

– The male is much more showy and larger than the female.

Plumage

males

– Their feathers are colorful and bright. Those on the body are scarlet or orange, the wings and tail are black. The feathers that rise near the junction of the wing with the body, known as scapulars, are pale gray.

– Despite the fact that the males have very striking colors, they are generally difficult to observe, when they are not in the display or lek fields. This could be due to the fact that they are surly animals since they inhabit very remote hills or very deep waterfalls.

females

– The color of the feathers of the females is dominated by dark brown tones.

– Their wings are rusty brown, although some species may have black wingtip feathers.

chicks

– Visually, it seems that all hatchlings are dark brown, like the adult female. However, there is a difference between male and female chicks.

– In males, the base of the beak is pale. The feathers that are around it and on the crest are brown, with a certain orange hue.

– The female chicks are brown, although they usually have certain darker areas.

– As they grow, the differences between males and females are more noticeable. When leaving the nest, both sexes can easily be distinguished.

– At the end of the first year, the young males will begin to have orange spots on their feathers. However, to reach the colorful plumage of the adult, this species will have to wait around three years.

Size

– He Rupicola peruvianus It is a medium-sized passerine.

– It measures around 32 centimeters and weighs approximately 265 grams.

– Males are heavier and larger than females, and can reach 300 grams.

taxonomy

Animal Kingdom.
Subkingdom: Bilateria.
Phylum: Cordate.
Subphylum: Vertebrate.
Superclass: Tetrapoda.
Class: Birds.
Order: Passeriformes.
Family: Cotingidae.
Subfamily: Rupicolinae.
Gender: rupicola.

Species Rupicola peruvianus

subspecies

Rupicola peruvianus aequatorialis.
Rupicola peruvianus peruvianus.
Rupicola peruvianus sanguinolentus.
Rupicola peruvianus saturatus.

Distribution and vulnerability

He Rupicola peruvianus It is distributed in South America, on the eastern slope of the Andean mountain range. Thus, it can be found from the west of Venezuela, passing through Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, until reaching the central west of Bolivia.

This bird has disappeared from a large number of natural habitats where it used to exist. In the past, some populations of the cock-of-the-rock lived in the areas near the Orinoco River, which originates in Venezuela and extends to Colombia.

The decrease in the number of animals that make up this species is mainly due to their capture, to be traded illegally. But also due to indiscriminate logging and illegal mining.

The population decline of the Rupicola peruvianus It has been evaluated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, placing this species on the Red List of animals that are in danger of extinction, although currently, within this list, it is located as «least concern».

The cock of the rock lives in the humid, cloudy and high forests of the Amazon, in areas ranging between 500 and 2,400 meters above sea level.

Habitat

Most of the time these cloud forests are covered by fog at the canopy level. Generally, the Rupicola peruvianus It lives in the low or medium forest levels. However, in fruit trees it has a higher rank.

Within these dense and closed ecosystems, this species prefers to be near streams that are surrounded by cliffs or rocky mountains. The females build nests in caves, in crevices in rock walls or on vertical rock faces.

These areas must have certain characteristics, such as the presence of lichens and mosses, water sources, shade or little light and humidity. These properties ensure that the nest does not dry out. If it dries out, it could break when the female sits on it.

Yungas

The habitat of the cock of the rocks is known as yunga. The lower part of these Andean forest ecoregions is characterized by humid, dense, evergreen forest vegetation.

The climate is humid and warm, with seasonal rains leading to a dry season and a rainy season. The average annual temperature is around 21.5 °C. However, the environmental conditions and the temperature are not constant, having very marked regional variations.

The hydrography is made up of mountain rivers, with seasonal variations in their flow. The period of maximum flow is between December and March, while the minimum levels occur in September and October.

The relief is typical of the mountains, with slopes and abrupt variations in the terrain surrounding the channels of the ravines and rivers predominating.

Feeding

He Rupicola peruvianus It is a frugivorous species, although in its first weeks of life it is fed with a wide variety of insects. The wild fruits on which it feeds grow abundantly in the humid Andean forests.

Between 50% and 80% of the trees found in the Amazon cloud forests produce fruit. The diversity and availability of these wild fruits make it easy for the cock of the rocks to obtain its food throughout the year.

Although this species bases its diet on fruits, it can eventually consume insects, small frogs and reptiles.

He Rupicola peruvianus prefers fruits that contain high protein content, such as those belonging to the families Rubiaceae, Lauraceae and Annonaceae.

The diet of this bird is very diverse, consisting of around 65 species of plants, belonging to 31 different families. Among these are: Musaceae, Cucurbitaceae, Solanaceae, Palmae, Myrtaceae, Araliaceae, Myrsinaceae, Caprifoliaceae, Acantaceae, Sthaphyleaceae, Sebaceae and Rhamnaceae.

Research carried out in Colombia

Recent studies suggest that during the reproductive stage, members of this species tend to eat small vertebrates.

Observations of the cock-of-the-rock in its natural environment revealed that it usually chases and eats the Canadian warbler (Cardellina canadensis) and Swainson’s thrush (Catharus ustulatus).

Although it could be a sporadic event, it is relevant to take into account that these vertebrates are migratory species, which perhaps did not recognize the cock-of-the-rock as a potential predator. This could result in making it easier for the Rupicola peruvianus capture these animals.

Reproduction

The reproduction of the cock of the rocks begins in October, ending with incubation, which covers the months of November to February.

There are some elements that influence the reproductive process. These include food availability, plant composition, proximity to nesting sites, and climate.

in kind Rupicola peruvianus There is polygyny, where a male can mate with several females. Prior to copulation, the male of this species performs courtship behaviors. The intention is to attract females and demonstrate their supremacy over the other males in the group.

the courtship

The breeding season begins with the establishment of the lek, a formation of a social nature, where hierarchies are established between the males. The dominant establishes a circular territory, where he is located and the other males surround him. The first to mate will be the male with the highest hierarchy.

At the lek, the male puts on some majestic displays. In these, the male can soar in flight, making head movements. He can also jump back and forth, flap his wings, do dances, and make loud vocalizations.

By doing this courtship, the male runs the risk of being seen by a predator, which can attack him to eat him.

The females closely observe these dances, which generally occur in the morning. Although the male can also perform them in the afternoon, but as the day progresses they become less vigorous.

Selection of the couple

The male who performs the best dance and performs it daily at the same time and in the same place, can be chosen by the female to mate. Females choose their mate by pecking at their necks.

The moment the female is attracted to one of the males, she approaches him to copulate. The rest of the females are still on the branches, watching the males dance. After mating, the female leaves and the male returns to the lek to continue dancing, hoping to attract another mate.

The male does not participate in any activity related to nesting or raising the chick. All of his energy is focused on performing the display rituals that he performs at the lek.

These colorful presentations imply a high energy cost. In addition, the courtship and the choice of the partner could last several days. These factors could explain why the male…

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