EXPLORETY

Cock-of-the-rock, the funky bird of the Andes Mountains

Natural habitat:

Subtropical and cloud forests of the Andes Mountains from Venezuela to Bolivia

Conservation status:

Not considered to be in immediate danger


Cock-of-the-rock? You might ask, "What in the world is that?" It’s a very small and fascinating bird residing in South America. The two cock-of-the-rock species — Andean cock-of-the-rock and Guianan cock-of-the-rock — belong to the genus Rupicola. First mentioned in the mid-1700s, these birds are mostly unknown to the general public.

Tiny in size, with a length of around 32 centimeters and an adult feather-weight of 200 grams, the cock-of-the-rock compensates for its fragile composition with its funky looks.

The birds are distinguished by their intense and sparkling orange or red tops and exquisite black bottoms. The male birds sport large and fancy fan-like crests made up of two rows of feathers that meet and form a semicircle. Females are way less bright with a smaller crest. These differences are due to sexual dimorphism, the differences in appearance of the two sexes.

Cock-of-the-rock birds are known to exhibit strong territorial behavior. Males are notorious competitors when it comes to winning over females, using fierce sounds, relentless wing-flapping, and intense head bobbing and hopping. A female will only choose a partner once the construction of a nest is completed, a process that can take as long as one month. They usually lay around 3 eggs in nests built on boulders and rocky cliffs.

The habitat of the Andean cock-of-the-rock spreads from Venezuela to Bolivia, while Guianan birds enjoy humid forests in countries such as Brazil and Colombia. Both species feed primarily on fruits and berries, but will occasionally spice up their diet with large insects, small reptiles, and frogs.

The highly elevated and hidden habitats are probably the main reason both genera of Rupicola are marked as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. These birds also have a positive impact on the environment around them. Not only does the white-capped dipper bird reuse abandoned cock-of-the-rock nests, but cock-of-the-rock birds themselves disperse rainforest seeds.

Did you know?

  • The Andean cock-of-the-rock is the national bird of Peru.

  • The genus name Rupicola translates from New Latin for "cliff-dweller."

  • Females build their concave nests from a mixture of vegetation and mud they bind together with her own saliva.

  • Cock-of-the-rocks have a number of predators, including birds of prey, jaguars, pumas, ocelots, and boa constrictors.

  • TripsAboutFAQContact us: support@explorety.com