Spix Guan

About the Spix Guan

Spix’s Guan (Penelope jacquacu) is an arboreal bird that somewhat resembles a turkey in size and shape. Found throughout much of the Amazon basin, they are fairly common in the Tambopata region and frequently seen at all of the lodges run by Rainforest Expeditions.

Spix’s Guan
Spix’s Guan in a tree.

Some interesting information about Spix’s Guan:

  • Frequently call at night: Although Spix’s Guan isn’t necessarily nocturnal, they sometimes make a frightening sounding, yelling noise on moonlit nights.
  • Need protected areas: Spix’s Guans are rather common in the rainforests around the eco-lodges run by Rainforest Expeditions because hunting is prohibited. In places where hunting occurs, this large bird becomes an easy, desired target and quickly disappears from such areas.
  • Wing-rattling: Like several other members of the same family (the Cracidae), the Spix’s Guan makes a rattling sound with its wings at dusk and dawn. It does this by stretching out the wings and shaking them as it glides from one tree to another. This display is done to attract mates.
  • Named after a bird collector: The Spix’s Guan is named after Dr Johan Baptist Ritter von Spix, a nineteenth century scientist who collected birds in Brazil and obtained the first scientific specimens of this species.

Read more on our blog: Five Bizarre Birds from Tambopata

How to see Spix’s Guan during an Amazon jungle adventure:

  • Visit protected areas: Although this species has a large range, it has become quite rare in many areas that receive little or no protection. The easiest places to see them are in protected areas such as the Tambopata Reserve in southeastern Peru.
  • Listen for their distinctive yelping calls: Spix’s Guans are very vocal birds and make load, yelping sounds reminiscent of a small dog. They often make such noises when alarmed.
  • Walk with a trained guide: Taking a jungle hike with a qualified guide increases your chances of getting great looks at Spix’s Guan and other types of Amazonian wildlife. All of the guides who work for Rainforest Expeditions are periodically trained to learn about and locate jungle wildlife.

What’s it like to see a spix’s guan in the wild?

The sunset seen from the canopy tower would always be remembered by the guests and guides who experienced it. Distant clouds were lit up orange and red and the sea of Amazon rainforest showed every shade of green as the sun set below the horizon. Flocks of oropendolas and parakeets had screeched past as they flew to their roosts for the night. A White-throated Toucan had given its yelping call from a nearby tree and seemed to be answered by two groups of Red Howler Monkeys that roared in the distance.

Once the sun set and dusk approached, the forest seemed to quiet down and the group started walking back to the lodge. The buzz of insects increased and light quickly diminished within the primeval Peruvian jungle. As night rapidy approached, a few tinamous sang from the understory, and odd yelping noises were heard from the canopy. Looking up at the direction of the comical sounding, barking noises, guides and guests could see a few turkey-like birds walking along branches high up in the canopy. “Spixs Guan!” said one of the guides and as she shined her flashlight up at the big birds, they could see a bright red wattle hanging from the bird’s throat.

Take a family friendly Amazon jungle tour with Rainforest Expeditions and watch Spix’s Guans as they forage in the jungle canopy.

As Seen in

National Geographic
The Huffington Post
yahoo News
Popular Science