Bare-necked umbrellabird: when nature meets fashion

The bare-necked umbrellabird (Cephalopterus glabricollis) belongs to the family Cotingidae and is without a doubt one of the leaders of nature‘s beauty pageant! Their looks are distinctive, their mating behaviors are fascinating, and they truly stand out among Latin America‘s diverse and exotic bird population.

With its funky mohawk crest that resembles an umbrella, its elegant throat and neck marked with a vibrant red wattle, and a sharp black body, the male bare-necked umbrella bird is unmistakable. The females lack bare skin on the throat, have a smaller crest, and are completely black.

While they primarily live in Panama, the umbrellabird’s migratory patterns are multi-country, and they can be found in the Talamanca montane forests in both Costa Rica and Panama. Some small populations live on the southernmost tip of Nicaragua as well.

Scientists have found evidence to support the claim that male umbrellabirds tend to return to the same breeding area every year.

Wherever umbrellabirds are, when the sun starts to rise and the first fragments of light reach the tree branches, males will start making a mating call followed by a series of complex movements.

Their diet consists mainly of fruit, but they also eat frogs and larger insects. Umbrellabirds spend most of their time 33-50 feet (10-15 m) above the ground, leaving tree branches to feed approximately every 2 hours.

As beautiful and fashionable as they are, even umbrellabirds can’t escape the threat of extinction. New information suggests that their already small population size is in rapid decline, mainly due to continued deforestation and habitat loss.

The bare-necked umbrellabird is currently on The Red List of Threatened Species and acknowledged as endangered.

Did you know?

  • Male bare-necked umbrellabirds weigh less than half a kilogram.

  • Only one black-necked umbrellabird nest has ever been found.

  • More than 35% of the remaining forest in northern Costa Rica has been cleared for agriculture.

  • The current population of the bare-necked umbrellabird is between 1,000 and 2,500.

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