Wednesday 17 April 2013

Horned Guan

Image: guppiecat
Oreophasis derbianus
Oh! OUCH! Someone's taken a terrific knock on the head. I'm surprised he can stay standing!

If you thought that maybe the Horned Guan was a guan with a horn, then I'm afraid you're incorrect. Not only is it not a real guan, but I find it quite difficult to call that red thing on its head a horn. Rhinos have horns. This thing has a lawsuit.

Image: Stormtrooper WB
The Horned Guan is a member of the cracidae family, which contains about two dozen guans, a dozen curassows and a dozen chachalacas. I haven't heard of any of them but... BOOM chachalacas!

The Horned Guan is all alone in its very own subfamily, having evolved for tens of millions of years in a lineage separate from all the other cracids. It's now the last representative of its part of the family tree. Judging by that lump on their noggin, they appear to fall head first from this tree on a regular basis.

Falling from trees isn't a great idea when you live on a mountain. Horned Guans come from the montane cloud forests of certain parts of Central America. They can be found at altitudes of up to 3,350 metres (11,000 ft), where they enjoy a diet of fruits, flowers and leaves along with the occasional insect snack.

Image: campylopterus
A lot is unknown about their lives in the wild. This is partly because their population is estimated to be just a couple thousand, and the living in thick forests on mountains can't help either. However, we do know that they breed during the first half of the year and it's thought that each male mates with 3 to 5 females. She goes on to lay just one or two eggs in a nest up a tree. With numbers like, it's clear their population won't be sky-rocketing any time soon.

Oh, and case you're wondering, both males and females have that extraordinary lump on their head. It isn't a weird thing the males use for courtship. It's just a weird thing.


TexWisGirl said...

it makes me uncomfortable, just because it looks to almost be growing out of their eyes! eek!

Joseph JG said...

Haha! Oh no! I hadn't seen it like that before!

Graphics Online said...

Gorgeous photos. As a budding photographer myself, who has only just recently ventured into the world of digital photography, I envy your talent!

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Joseph JG said...

Ha! If only!