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GALLERIES > BIRDS > GALLIFORMES > CRACIDAE > TRINIDAD PIPING-GUAN [Pipile pipile]


Trinidad Piping-guan Picture
 
 

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SPECIES INFO

The Trinidad Piping-guan, Aburria pipile (sometimes still called Pipile pipile), is a bird in the chachalaca, guan and curassow family Cracidae.

This species is only found on Trinidad; it is close to extinction. They are large birds, 60 cm in length, and similar in general appearance to turkeys, with thin necks and small heads. They are forest birds, and the nest is built in a tree. Three large white eggs are laid, the female alone incubating. This arboreal species feeds on fruit and berries.

Aburria pipile is mainly black with a purple gloss. The large crest is blackish, edged with white, and there are large white wing patches. The bare face and wattle are blue, and the legs are red.

The Trinidad Piping-guan's call is a thin piping. The wings whirr in flight.

Taxonomy

Formerly, all piping-guans (with the possible exception of the Black-fronted Piping-guan) were considered subspecies of a single species, the Common Piping-guan (Pipile pipile). However, analysis of mtDNA, osteology and biogeography (Grau et al., 2005) shows that not only is the separation as distinct species warranted, but that the Wattled Piping-guan (Aburria aburri) is closer than the Black-fronted Piping-guan to the other species. Thus, the genera are merged under the older name Aburria.

The same data confirms that the other blue-wattled species, the Blue-throated Piping-guan, is the Trinidad species' closest living relative. Interestingly, the same data suggests that these diverged some 400.000 years ago at latest, perhaps as early as 1.6 mya, whereas Trinidad has been an island only since the end of the last ice age. This indicates that the Trinidad Piping-guan evolved in mainland south America, being driven to its relict island range in more recent times. The holotype of this species was supposedly collected in the "Orinoco River [region] near Cumaná" (del Hoyo 1994a,b). This locality has usually been considered erroneous. However, as it indicates an area on the mainland roughly opposite Trinidad, it might actually be correct and indicate that the Trinidad Piping-guan was not extirpated from Venezuela until around 1800.





                                     



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