Amazonian umbrellabird

Cephalopterus ornatus

TAXONOMY

Cephalopterus ornatus Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1809. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Fifebird, bullbird; French: Coracine ornée; German: Kurzlappen-Schirmvogel; Spanish: Pajaro Paraguas.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Umbrellabirds have sharp and powerful claws to secure good grips on branches during calling. This group comprises the largest of the cotingas, being about the size of a crow. As is the case with most cotingas, the females are smaller and less dramatic than the males in terms of ornamentation. For example, the male Amazonian umbrellabird is 1.65 times the weight of females, with male weights ranging 1.5-1.6 lb (680-745 g). Both sexes are entirely black, and the male has a whitish eye.

DISTRIBUTION

This species is found in the western and central Amazonian basin, at lower elevations typically not exceeding 4,300 ft (1,300 m).

Cephalopterus ornatus I Resident

HABITAT

This species tends to be a riverine island specialist in the Amazonian lowlands, often associated with riverine vegetation (e.g., Cecropia). However, along the eastern fringe of the Andes, this species ranges up into montane evergreen forest, more similar to the primary habitat of the other species of umbrellabirds.

BEHAVIOR

Unlike the other two species of umbrellabirds, the Amazonian species appears to be sedentary. The call is a plaintive combination between a "roar" and bleating calf, often occurring in the morning or afternoon. Umbrellabirds have a very characteristic slow-flapping during flight with the crest laying down flat. Once perched they will often hop clumsily from branch to branch. Animal prey is often beaten against a tree branch before swallowing

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

The umbrellabirds consume fruits such as berries and palm fruits and nuts. Larger seeds of the fruits they consume are regurgitated. This helps regenerate the tropical forests they live in, as seeds of their preferred food plants are dispersed throughout the forests. Insects, larvae and some spiders are taken as well. Animal matter is consumed especially during the rainy season when fruits are more scarce.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Males are organized into widely spaced, exploded leks and may displace other males from calling perches.

The nest is platform type and built very roughly of loose twigs such that the single egg or chick can be seen from underneath. The nest is often located high in a tree fork. The single egg is 2.2 by 1.4 in (56 by 36 mm), oblong and rather pointed at one end, with khaki coloring with brownish spotting and stippling.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

The head and beard ornamention are sometimes seen in Amazonian riverboats, but the associated belief is unknown. However, various tribes use the wattles for ornamentation in their artifacts. ♦

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