The Crested Guan, Penelope purpurascens, is a member of an ancient group of birds of the Cracidae family, which are related to the Australasian mound builders. It breeds in lowlands from south Mexico and the Yucatán Peninsula to western Ecuador and northern Venezuela at up to 1850 m altitude.
The Crested Guan is an arboreal forest species. The substantial twig nest is built in a tree or stump and lined with leaves. The female lays two or three large rough-shelled white eggs and incubates them alone.
This is a large bird, typically 86 cm long and weighing 1700 g. It is similar in general appearance to a turkey, with a small head, long strong red legs, and a long broad tail. It is mainly dark brown, with white spotting on the neck and breast. The rump and belly are rufous. The head sports a bushy crest, from which the species gets its name, blue-grey bare skin around the eye, and a bare red dewlap or wattle.
The sexes are similar, but young birds have black vermiculations and ochre specks on the body plumage.
The Crested Guan is a noisy bird with a loud plee or quonk call, a whistled contact call and a powerful keLEEEErrrr! dawn song.
This is a social bird, often seen in pairs or family groups of 6-12. It walks along branches seeking the fruit and foliage on which it feeds, or flies off with a heavy ani-like flap and glide.
The range of this species has severely contracted outside remote or protected forests due to deforestation and hunting.