Cock-of-the-Rock: everything you should know about this bird

We invite you to learn all about the well-known Cock of the Rock, a bird that will undoubtedly leave you delighted when you finish reading this enjoyable article that will try as much as possible to cover accurate and relevant information about the Cock of the Rock, a representative bird of Peru .

Among so many things that you will learn about this peculiar bird we can begin by pointing out that the scientific name of the cock of the rock is Rupicola peruviana, it is as you can see a Latin term although it is not the only one with which it is catalogued but it is also well known as tunqui, this word in turn comes from the Quechua language in which it is written: tunki or tunqui. If you want to know what is the cock-of-the-rock, the taxonomy of the cock-of-the-rock, in which region the cock-of-the-rock lives and much more, keep reading this article.

The Cock of the Rock is part of the passerines and belongs to the family of birds called Cotingidae which refers to the family of passerine birds that belong to the suborder of Tyranni, this is made up of about sixty-seven species of birds and twenty-five genera that are native to what is known as Neotropics or Tropical America and living in tropical rainforests and subtropical, in temperate zones or in mountainous forests.

Meaning of the name of the Cock-of-the-Rock

First of all, the taxonomic classification of the Cock of the Rock is that it belongs to the animal, its phylum is the Chordata, the class is the Aves, the order it enters is the Passeriformes, the family is the Cotingidae, the Genus is Rupicola and the species is Rupicola peruviana with a subspecies called Rupicola Guayanés, which we will talk about later.

Now, as for the meaning of the name Cock-of-the-Rock, what we know is that it is also known as the cock-of-the-Rock, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Andean Chaperone and Tunqui. As you can see their names give some clue as to what constitutes their habitat, we say this because of the reference to Andean and rocky areas. Also, the Latin word that we mentioned before, Rupicola peruviana is even more explicit because what it means is bird of the rocks of Peru or Peruvian bird.

In fact, the Cock of the Rock is a bird native to Peru where it has been taken as a national symbol. This bird lives in the Amazonian areas and its closest relative is the Guayanese Cock of the Rock or as it is scientifically designated: Rupicola rupicola. Roughly speaking, the Cock of the Rock has a very beautiful and striking plumage, so it is considered an exotic bird that has been praised by the culture at different times as it has been painted, engraved and even photographed, it is even the emblem of the Vallecoucan Ornithological Society.

Description of the Cock-of-the-Rock

The Cock-of-the-Rock is a bird species that presents great differences between the male and the female, that is to say, we can speak of sexual dimorphism of this species. The male Cock-of-the-Rock is a bird with a plumage full of shiny and spectacular colors that combine with black and even orange, while the female Cock-of-the-Rock has a plumage that at first glance is more opaque with brown color that predominates.

This Cock-of-the-Rock eats different fruits and when it digests the seeds or discards them through its feces, it helps the ecological preservation of its own environment. The bird’s beak is strong, as are its toes and feet.In addition, both the female and the male have a crest on their head that is formed by their feathers and all the time is erect and expanded so it resembles a kind of slice.

Although the Cock-of-the-Rock is a very showy bird whose plumage gives it away to humans and predators, it is a very elusive bird so if our intention is to go to see it in freedom we must be very lucky because finding it will not be easy and less in its natural habitat which by the way, is constituted by the waterfalls or distant hills of lowlands, a habitat totally different from that of birds like the canary bird

Watch this video to learn more about the information of the Cock-of-the-Rock

Characteristics of the Cock of the Rock

Among the main characteristics of the Cock of the Rock and more relevant is that it has a medium size, because it hardly exceeds thirty-two centimeters in length, as mentioned above the male is the extremely colorful or intense plumage, with its shades between red and orange and with legs, beak and toes yellow but sometimes it is orange.

Another of the physical characteristics of the cock-of-the-rock is that although both males and females have a crest on their head, this is much larger in the male, always extended and erect, which seems to cover their beak.

As for the black color, we see it in the tail area of the Cock-of-the-Rock as well as in its wings with some gray feathers on them. We already said it also, the color of the female Cock-of-the-Rock is a dark color at the same time that brown, this one has a smaller crest but, both sexes when they fly they do it in a fast and vigorous way.

Regarding the song of the Cock-of-the-Rock, what we can say is that they do sing but not all the time but rather, they are quiet birds and mostly emit vocalizations in the mating season in which it seems to hear a kind of snoring that is also heard if the bird is frightened or if it is far from its territory and it is something like if it leaves uankk.

To better appreciate what we say look and listen to this video so you know how is the song of the Cock of the Rock, which has nothing to do with the song of other birds such as the owl for example

Feeding of the Cock-of-the-Rock

To know what the cock of the rock feeds on, it must be taken into account that this is a bird with a frugivorous or fruit-based diet and this is closely linked to the habitat that hosts it because it is full of vegetation full of trees with fruits, although when the cock of the rock is a simple chick, its mother feeds it with various insects during its first weeks of life. The great vegetation of the Amazon rainforest is what allows this and many other birds to eat fruits throughout the year.

Distribution and habitat of the Cock-of-the-Rock

If you are wondering where does the Cock-of-the-Rock live? then this is a bird that lives in the cloud forests, humid and high of the Amazon that is in the eastern slope of the Andes mountain range by Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, mostly areas ranging from four hundred meters above sea level to two thousand five hundred meters in the known Yungas, or mountainous, cloudy, rainy and tropical jungles.

However, knowing where the cock of the rock is found, it is important to know that long ago the cock of the rock could be seen in the vicinity of the Orinoco River but since the last century its population has been declining for reasons such as being captured for illegal trade, to the point that today is a bird that is in danger of extinction according to the Red List of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)

And well, the habitat of the Cock-of-the-Rock is any closed forest that is close to streams that have preferably in their surroundings rocky walls and cliffs, so it is normal that it lives comfortably in the mountainous forests, which represent the main ecological niche of the Cock-of-the-Rock .

Reproduction of the Cock of the Rock

If you did not know how does the cock-of-the-rock reproduce? , it is important to know that the reproduction of this one implies, as it is the case of most of the birds and birds, a previous courtship that requires great acrobatics deployed by the male who wants to find with whom to mate.

Now, in this section there are several things to address related to the reproduction of the Cock of the Rock, such as the courtship, the hierarchy that is established or that organization that occurs between the dominant male and those of lower rank forming a lek, as well as the nest, incubation and development of the chicks. Let’s go on then to touch on each thing in detail.

Courtship

First we have to know that the Cock-of-the-Rock is a gregarious bird or that it likes to stay in community to make its life in the same place where it was born and apart from this it is a polygamous bird. When the breeding season arrives it is a bird that spends almost all day in the trees where males dance giving a kind of jumping and make loud sounds in order to attract females , it is certainly a time with a lot of activity full of a total colorful display of plumage.

When the female is attracted by a male or a Cock of the Rock, she approaches him to copulate while the rest of the males continue dancing and the other females watching them from their branches where they are perched, although these screeches can be perceived at a great distance from the jungle.

In turn, it is important to consider that the courtship and the choice of the male cock-of-the-rock is a process that lasts for days once the lek is established, which is nothing more than a hierarchical social formation in which the dominant male establishes a circular territory, in whose center is him and the other males surround him and the dominant cock-of-the-rock is the first to mate.

Then, each male appropriates a small territory and begins to fly and sing, showing off to the females, but not everything is so easy because in this process the Cock of the Rock runs the risk of being the victim of a predator’s attack. Something that apparently the females take into account to choose the specimen to mate, is that it is constant, that it arrives every day at a certain time to perform its courtship ritual.

In the following video you can see how the Cock-of-the-Rock performs its lek during the breeding season, something that is not seen, for example, in the hummingbird

The nest

The nest of the Cock-of-the-Rock is practically a holler or a cavern located in some rock wall , the cavity chosen by the female is later furnished with vegetal things such as moss and lichen as well as other materials. What is essential is that the nest is close to a water source and that it is protected from direct sunlight and humidity.

Any kind of crack, fissure, cavity or crevice in the rocks is an ideal site to be adopted as a nest by the female Cock-of-the-Rock. They are known to never nest in dry caves or on cliffs that are in danger of crumbling when it is time for the female to sit or perch to incubate the eggs.

Likewise, when the female incubates it is very difficult to see her because she manages to mimic the environment, the nest and its various materials. They lay two eggs and normally the nesting season is between January and September.

To confirm that the chicks of the Cock-of-the-Rock are raised in the hollows that are located in ravines, in the inclined rocks or in the areas that it inhabits, that is to say, the humid and deep ravines, we leave you a video below.

What does the male Cock-of-the-Rock do?

While the female searches for the nest and incubates the eggs , the male is satisfying his own food needs and is also focused on seeking a social position in the flock or lek.

While the female incubates and then takes care of the chicks, the male never participates in such natural process neither helping the female nor taking care of the young but, nevertheless, the female is relaxed at all times, to the point that she does not care much about being a single mother but, on the contrary, she is sure that predators and predators will not be able to take care of her young, she is sure that predators will be far away from her and her offspring, since if the male were to help her in any way, the latter would be attracted by the colorful plumage of the Cock-of-the-Rock and the whole species would be endangered; This also has to do with the color of the female’s feathers, which are dark and opaque like the rocks themselves, resulting in an effective defense mechanism that is very well adapted to the ecosystem in which it lives.

More data on the reproduction of the Cock-of-the-Rock

It is known from various studies and data that have been collected by many biologists and bird experts that the breeding of the Cock-of-the-Rock begins in the month of October and ends with incubation from November to February.

The female is the one who takes care of the egg and the offspring by herself, the incubation lasts forty or forty-two days and for three months her chicks will be with her. Another thing that experts say about the Cock of the Rock is that the male is a professional dancer and singer, excellent in other words and the selection of the female by a male occurs when all the males gather in a specific place in the forest, each one defends a small territory every day and at the same time, in the same place each male dances and sings forming the lek.

Lek in turn means, fighting arena and is a behavior of the Cock of the Rock as well as other animals such as fish and insects. Also, another thing that has a direct influence on the reproduction of the cock-of-the-rock is plant composition, food availability, light, climate and proximity to nesting sites.

The behavior of the Cock-of-the-Rock

The Cock-of-the-Rock is a bird that performs all its physical activity during the day , that is, it is a bird whose behavior is diurnal although when the sun goes down it tends to become active to look for food, which as we said before is practically composed by the fruits of the trees that are in its natural habitat.

The fruits eaten by the Cock-of-the-Rock are found in abundance in the montane forests of the eastern slope of the Andes.Their diet is practically frugivorous and the reason is that most of the trees in the Amazon rainforest produce fruits as a way of proliferation through their seeds, which are later execrated by the bird when it digests or processes them, and the best of all is that these trees are abundant at any time of the year.

Predators of the Cock-of-the-Rock and its conservation

Like any animal or bird, the Cock of the Rock is surrounded by different threats such as its natural predators and human beings , who insist on destroying the sites where it lives as well as hunting it to sell it indifferently without thinking about the welfare of the bird or the consequences that can bring to the species as a whole, such as its current endangered status.

For this reason in this section we will first point out the natural predators of the Cock-of-the-Rock, which in reality are few and are not to blame for this beautiful bird is about to disappear from the planet, but we will also mention the sites and efforts that have been carried out to preserve the species in the different countries where it lives, let’s start then.

According to its living organism, the Cock of the Rock is a bird that is endangered by animals such as the ocelot, the Monkey Eagle, the Urubitinga Black Hawk, the Crested Eagle, the White Hawk, the Bicolored Hawk, snakes, the Puma, the Collared Hawk, the Jaguar, the coati and ferrets.

In relation to the conservation of the Cock-of-the-Rock what we know is that it is a legally protected bird in Peru, where it is the national bird as mentioned at the beginning of this article. Both trade and hunting of the Cock-of-the-Rock are prohibited activities.

However, the Cock-of-the-Rock is still being captured to be sold alive or stuffed and in case it is sold alive, it will most likely end up dead because of the lack of knowledge of its diet, its behavior and the habitat in which it can thrive.

This beautiful and vulnerable bird has disappeared from several regions where it used to be seen due to forest devastation and illegal hunting. Some sites in Peru where the Cock-of-the-Rock is protected are mostly national parks such as Rio Abieso, San Martin, Pasco, Yanachaga Chemillén, Tingo María, Huánuco, Cusco Madre de Dios, and Manu.

Likewise, the Cock of the Rock is protected in forests such as Junin, Pasco, Alto Mayo, Pui Pui, San Martin, San Matias, San Carlos and if you are very interested in the conservation of the Cock of the Rock and want to go directly to the sites where it is cared for, you can visit others such as the forests of San Ignacio, Machu Pichu and Cutervo National Park.

In the following video you can observe closely a beautiful Cock of the Rock in captivity but very well cared for

Why is the Cock of the Rock in danger of extinction?

To know why the cock-of-the-rock is in danger of extinction it is necessary to highlight in this same section the well-known reasons for this situation. The causes pointed out by the researchers have to do with the felling of trees for the later obtaining of the precious and expensive wood or the pasture meadows.

Another thing that has put the Cock of the Rock in danger of extinction is the illegal mining, as well as the continuous construction of roads and dams ; as you can see we humans are the ones who have caused this critical situation for this bird and therefore, the solution is in our own actions, because all this makes the resources to survive decrease in an accelerated and notorious way, threatening directly the Cock of the Rock.

Curiosities about the Cock-of-the-Rock

Let’s start talking about the social life of the Cock-of-the-Rock or rather, its way of life which is practically gregarious or in community , this bird lives together with ten or twenty specimens of the same species, as you can see they are small communities.

During the day, the Cock-of-the-Rock spends its time hiding and when it decides to leave the forest it always does so at a specific time and only to satisfy its basic needs such as searching for food, drinking water and even bathing on the banks of rivers or streams. By the way, when the Cock-of-the-Rock bathes, it lets the water completely enter all its feathers and then, like a dog, it shakes or shakes vigorously.

Another very curious thing about the Cock-of-the-Rock is that it is something very characteristic of rupicolous birds the courtship of male specimens towards females gathering or forming a lek or as it is also designated, cantadero and it is its crest that supposedly seduces females more effectively.

According to the history of the cock of the rock , in the year 1941 was when in Peru was President Manuel Prado who named the cock of the rock the national bird of Peru . Today, it is believed that there are only three thousand cock-of-the-rocks. If you do not know why the cock of the rock is the national bird of Peru, this is mainly because it is considered one of the most beautiful birds of this country, which is currently protected in forests and national parks, for being in danger of extinction.

If you were wondering who gave the Cock of the Rock its name it is time to know, it was none other than the explorer and naturalist Alexander Von Humboldt , this historical character suggested such name to the Cock of the Rock when he saw how it was so well linked with its habitat and the rocks, as well as the fact of nesting in the deep and humid ravines.

When the breeding season arrives, up to forty males can be seen gathered together waiting to be chosen for copulation with the females.

Among so many curiosities we have the adaptations of the Cock-of-the-Rock to the environment , like its aerodynamic body covered with feathers, a pair of wings and a skeleton with pneumatic bones, it is a bird of oviparous reproduction that has the capacity to live at high altitude between four hundred and two thousand five hundred meters of altitude. It is also a forest helper, dispersing the seeds of the trees that provide its food.

The two types of cock-of-the-rock:

As mentioned above there are two kinds of cock-of-the-rock, on the one hand we have the Rupicola peruviana or Andean cock-of-the-rock and on the other hand, we have the Rupicola gauyanes or Guayanese cock-of-the-rock .

Gauyanese Cock-of-the-Rock

Both types of cock-of-the-rock inhabit the mountainous areas of northern South America but the former lives in the Andes from Venezuela to Bolivia while the latter is found in the older, more eroded mountains east of the Andes and north of the Amazon River, i.e., through Colombia and Brazil or the Guiana Highlands.

The two species eat the same and make their nests in the same places and of course, as they are gregarious it is normal that many females make their nests close to each other. Well, this is all about the Cock of the Rock .

Female Guayan Cock-of-the-Rock