Graynecked picathartes

Picathartes oreas

SUBFAMILY

Picathartinae

TAXONOMY

Picathartes oreas Reichenow, 1899, Cameroon. Monotypic. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Red-headed rockfowl, blue-headed picathartes, gray-necked bald crow, Cameroon picathartes; French: Picatharte du Cameroun; German: Blaustirn Stelzenkrahe; Spanish: Pi-catartes Cuelligris.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

14 in (35 cm), 7.7 oz (220 g). Appears obviously related to preceding species, but markedly distinct. Uniquely beautiful blue, black, and red pattern of bare skin on head, blue extending to base of bill. Neck, mantle, back, and tail gray. A patch of black bristles on crown, and short ruff at base of bald head, can be erected when bird is excited. Primaries black; underparts pale yellow.

DISTRIBUTION

Primarily Cameroon, and contiguous Nigeria and Gabon. Recently discovered to occur on the island of Bioko, Gulf of Guinea.

HABITAT

Closed canopy, undisturbed rainforest, often hilly, always in vicinity of rock formations.

BEHAVIOR

Found on or near ground, singly, in pairs, or in groups of up to 10. Flocks have been observed bounding along, almost in unison. Shares previous species' curiosity towards humans. Groups gather to roost in communal nesting sites at night.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Actively hunts, poking through leaf litter, pouncing on prey, primarily arthropods (including crabs), snails, worms, frogs, and lizards. Often follows army ants, and may poke through bat guano.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Monogamous. Mud and fiber nests similar to that of white-necked picathartes, similarly plastered to rocks, built by both sexes. Construction may take months, sometime a year. Clutch of usually two variously colored speckled eggs incubated by both parents for 24 days.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Vulnerable due to dependence on primary forest. Still abundant in various locations, and new populations have been recently discovered. Limited commercial exploitation as zoo birds from 1968 to 1970. CITES Appendix I status, awarded in 1973, prevents further international trade.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Future "flagship" and ecotourism potential. ♦

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