Trinidad Piping Guan, Aburria pipile

The Trinidad Piping-guan, Aburria pipile (sometimes called Pipile pipile), is a species of bird in the chachalaca, guan and curassow family Cracidae. This bird is found only on Trinidad and is close to extinction. It evolved in mainland South America and was at some point driven to its Trinidad habitat in more recent times — since after the last ice age.

This is a large bird, nearly 24 inches in length. It is similar in general appearance to a turkey, with a thin neck and small head. It is mainly black with a purple gloss. It has a large blackish crest, edged with white, and also has large white wing patches. The bare face and wattle are blue, and the legs are red. Its call is a thin piping. The wings whirr in flight.

This is a forest species, with the nest built in a tree. The female lays three large white eggs, and incubates them alone. The diet consists mainly of fruit and berries.

All piping-guans (with the possible exception of the Black-fronted Piping-guan) were considered subspecies of a single species, the Common Piping-guan (Pipile pipile). However, analysis of DNA, osteology and biogeography shows not only is the separation as distinct species warranted, but that the Wattled Piping-guan is closer than the Black-fronted Piping-guan to the other species. The same data confirms that the Blue-throated Piping-guan is the Trinidad species’ closest living relative.

Image Caption: Blue-throated Piping Guan at Denver Zoo. Once considered a subspecies of Trinidad Piping Guan. Credit: Drew Avery / Wikipedia (CC Attribution 2.0)