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Rupicola rupicola

Guianan Cock-of-the-rock

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Cotingidae
  • Monotypic

Authors: Richter, Whitney, and Guy M. Kirwan



Cocks-of-the-rock are stocky in body shape. The male Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock primarily is bright orange from head to tail, with a semi-circular disc on its head that runs from the tip of its bill to the nape, and with red-orange tarsi. The females have a smaller disc on the head, and primarily are olive gray.

Similar Species

Andean Cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruvianus) is similar in body shape, including the crest, and also has similar coloration. The two species of cock-of-the-rock are allopatric, however, and so do not come into contact. The plumage of male Andean is redder, less orange, and the male Andean has wings that are mostly black, lacking the orange tertial filaments of male Guianan. Female Andean is reddish brown, not gray.


Vocal array

The Guianan Cock-of-the-rock is rather quiet, except within the display area (Hilty and Brown 1986). The most frequent vocalization of males, given both at and away from the lek, is described as "a loud, crowing GET-REAL, [the second] note somewhat drawn out" (Hilty 2003). Males also give a variety of "low wavering caws, gabbling, and various rough notes" during aggressive interactions (Hilty 2003). Foraging males also give, typically at long intervals, a "nasal, drawn-out qaaaOWW" (Hilty 2003). 


No information.

Geographic variation

Geographic variation in vocalizations is not reported.


The male and female of the species vocalize all year round, but primarily during mating seasons.

Daily pattern

The Guianan Cock-of-the-rock vocalizes from day break until night during breeding seasons.

Places of vocalizing

The Guianan Cock-of-the-rock primarily vocalizes from a perch.

Nonvocal Sounds

Two types of mechanical sounds are produced by the male: a loud snapping noise, from snapping the bill closed (Gilliard 1962); and a "whinnying whistle" (Gilliard 1962) or a "strident whistle" (Sick 1984), produced by the wings in flight, especially when taking flight or upon landing (Sick 1984).

Detailed Description (appearance)

Adult, male: Primarily dazzling orange. The head has a prominent disc-like crest that runs from the front of the bill to the nape, crest with a subterminal narrow maroon band. The primaries are gray to black broad white bases. The outermost primary has a long slender tip. Secondaries very broad; inner secondaries have long, silky, orange fringes. Rectrices black with narrow orange tips.

Adult, female: Similar in proportions to the male, although crest is reduced in size. Primarily dark smoky gray.

Immature male: At one year, similar to female but flecked with orange. At two years, mainly orange with small brown blotches. Attains definitive plumage at age three.

Immature female: Similar to adult female.

Bare Parts

Iris: male: orange, but yellower towards the outer margin; female: duller orange, and grayer towards the outer margin

Bill: male, basally deep orange, distal half yellow; female: blackish horn, culmen and tip yellow

Tarsi and toes: male: yellowish orange; female: dark brownish horn

Data from Snow (1982)


Total length: 27-32 cm (Snow 2004), 28 cm (Hilty 2003), 32 cm (Hilty and Brown 1986)

Linear measurements (mm) of Rupicola rupicola (Snow 1982)
   wing tail tarsus culmen
   male  mean  176.8  86.9  34.9  21.3
   range (n=10) 172-181 82-91  34-36  20.5-22.5
   female  mean  169.1 93.3  34.2   21.2
   range (n=8)  164-175  89-97  33-35  20.5-22

Mass: 140 g (n=1, female; Snow 1982)


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Geographic Variation



The two species of Rupicola were formerly placed in their own family, Rupicolidae (e.g., Hellmayr 1929, Meyer de Schauensee 1970). Inclusion of Rupicola within the Cotingidae has been confirmed, however, in all subsequent genetic analyses, including DNA hybridization and phylogenetic analysis of DNA sequence data.

Rupicola rupicola and and the Andean Cock-of-the-rock R. peruvianus suggested to  form a superspecies (Snow 1979b, Haffer 1987).

Recommended Citation

Richter, Whitney, and Guy M. Kirwan. 2011. Guianan Cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola rupicola), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: