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.
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.
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.
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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)