Justification of Red List Category
This species qualifies as Endangered because of continued intensive habitat loss and hunting, from which very rapid population declines are suspected.
The population in Ecuador was estimated at 2,500-7,500 mature individuals in 2002. On the basis of extensive visual and auditory transect-mapping carried out in 1997-2006 in Esmeraldas (Ecuador), the global population was extrapolated at 7,000-21,000 mature individuals, roughly equivalent to 10,000-32,000 individuals in total. In remote premontane forest, about 0.5-1.5 territories were counted per transect kilometre. However, the species is usually extirpated within about 2-5 km around human settlements (O. Jahn in litt. 2007, P. Mena in litt. 2007). Transects in Ensenada de Utria in 2010 estimated a total density of 0.56 individuals/km2 (O. Cortes in litt. 2012).
A very rapid population decline is suspected to have occurred over the last three generations on the basis of rates of habitat loss and hunting pressure. An analysis of deforestation from 2000 to 2012 found that forest within the species's range was lost at a rate equivalent to 2.5% over three generation lengths (Tracewski et al. 2016).
Penelope ortoni has been recorded locally along the west Andean foothills and slopes throughout west Colombia and in Ecuador, south to Naranjal, Guayas (Vaurie 1968, Hilty and Brown 1986), and possibly to Buenaventura, El Oro (P. Coopmans in litt. 1998). In Colombia, recent reports are from Chocó (B. López-Lanús in litt. 2000), Valle del Cauca (N. Gómez in litt. 1999, A. Cortés per E. Fierro in litt. 2012) and Nariño (Hellmayr and Conover 1942, Salaman and Giles 1995). In Ecuador, there are no confirmed recent records south of Pichincha, where it occurs in the Mindo-Nambillo area, and the majority of modern records are from Esmeraldas (Best et al. 1996, Velasco-Abad 1997, Sharpe 1999, Jahn and Mena 2002, Jahn et al. 2002, Idrobo-Medina et al. 2006). Its range and population have undoubtedly contracted greatly.
It inhabits early to late successional stage humid and wet forest from the tropical to the temperate zone, mostly between 70-1,500m (Hellmayr and Conover 1942, Delacour and Amadon 1973, Hilty and Brown 1986), with wanderers recorded up to 3,100 m (Idrobo-Medina et al. 2006, O. Jahn in litt. 2007). In Esmeraldas and Azuay, it has been recorded on the coastal plain and in rolling lowland hills, but only near the base of the Andes (Hellmayr and Conover 1942, Delacour and Amadon 1973, Paynter 1993, Jahn 2001). However, due to hunting pressure it is now usually restricted to steep slopes adjacent to level ground and mountain ridges (Idrobo-Medina et al. 2006, O. Jahn in litt. 2007, P. Mena in litt. 2007). The species's daily activities include all forest strata (Idrobo-Medina et al. 2006, O. Jahn in litt. 2007, P. Mena in litt. 2007): at dawn it vocalizes and performs courtship displays from the canopy; around noon it tends to stay at medium levels, hiding from predators such as eagles, and it feeds on fruits and seeds from the ground level up to the canopy. Breeding pairs are territorial, and post-breeding birds live in family groups, usually numbering around four individuals, exceptionally more (Idrobo-Medina et al. 2006). Available data suggest this species breeds between July and September, with the clutch numbering two eggs (Haffer 1968, Salaman 1994, Salaman et al. 2000, Jahn and Mena 2002, Jahn et al. 2002, Idrobo-Medina et al. 2006).
This species is extremely sensitive to habitat modification and hunting (Jahn 2001, P. Salaman in litt. 2003, O. Cortes in litt. 2012). It usually does not flee if approached by humans, making it an easy bag for hunters (Jahn and Mena 2002). Large parts of its range have long since been deforested and plans to colonise and develop more remote regions are progressing through the rapid expansion of the road network (Dodson and Gentry 1991, Salaman 1994, Salaman and Stiles 1996, WWF and IUCN 1994-1997). Colonisation is in turn increasing the impact of small-scale agriculture, illegal coca plantations, selective logging, hunting for food and gold mining (Salaman 1994, Salaman and Giles 1995, Salaman and Stiles 1996, WWF and IUCN 1994-1997, P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999, 2000, Idrobo-Medina et al. 2006), which is already affecting some key protected areas (Jahn and Mena 2002, Idrobo-Medina et al. 2006). Industrial-scale logging and intensive agriculture, especially oil palm and banana plantations and cattle-farming are major threats (Salaman 1994, Salaman and Stiles 1996, P. Coopmans in litt. 1998, P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999, Sharpe 1999, P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 2000), and have already transformed over 90% of the Ecuadorian landscape below 900 m (Dodson and Gentry 1991). Large tracts of its western Ecuadorian range are being purchased from local communities, denuded of forest and converted to industrial oil palm plantations (Sharpe 1999). New legislation and the transfer of land-rights to local communities has been exploited by large businesses, for whom it has become cheap and easy to buy land (P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999, 2000). The construction of pipelines and hydroelectric dams is also a potential threat (E. Gallo-Cajiao in litt. 2007). Despite the existence of protected areas within its range, some threats may operate even inside of such areas and their buffer zones (Jahn and Mena 2002).
Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve (Esmeraldas) (Jahn and Mena 2002, O. Jahn in litt. 2007), Awacachi Corridor (Esmeraldas) (P. Mena in litt. 2007), Canandé Reserve (Esmeraldas) (Idrobo-Medina et al. 2006), Mindo-Nambillo Protection Forest (Pichincha) (Idrobo-Medina et al. 2006), Farallones de Cali (Valle de Cauca) and Ensenada de Utría (Chocó) National Parks (Velasco-Abad 1997, B. López-Lanús in litt. 2000), and in the small El Pangán Nature Reserve (Nariño) (P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999, R. Strewe in litt. 1999, P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 2000). Historical specimens from the vicinity of Munchique National Park, Colombia, suggest that fieldwork at appropriate altitudes would probably find the species (P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999, R. Strewe in litt. 1999, P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 2000). In Ecuador the species is protected by law (Jahn and Mena 2002).
66 cm. Shy, drab, medium-sized , long-tailed cracid. All rich brown with greyish-brown tinge to neck and head and fine whitish edging to foreneck and breast. Bare blue ocular area, prominent red dewlap, and dull red legs. Similar spp. Smaller and duller than other sympatric Penelope spp.. Similar-sized Sickle-winged Guan Chamaepetes goudotii lacks red dewlap and whitish breast streaks. Voice Call at dawn a far-carrying guttural bawling waou (Jahn et al. 2002). Mates and family members warn each other of an approaching human with low, soft, and prolonged rising whistles. Rarely heard alarm call is a repeated and agitated konh-konh-konh-konh (resembling other Penelope species) (Jahn et al. 2002).
Text account compilers
Sharpe, C.J., Jahn, O., Symes, A., Benstead, P., Wheatley, H.
Coopmans, P., Cortés, A., Cortés, O., Fierro, E., Gallo-Cajiao, E., Gomez, N., Jahn, O., López-Lanús, B., Mena-Valenzuela, P., Salaman, P.G.W., Sharpe, C J, Strewe, R., Williams, R.S.R. & Williams, R.
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Penelope ortoni. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 06/07/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 06/07/2022.