White-winged Guan Penelope albipennis


Justification of Red List Category
This species qualifies as Endangered because it has an extremely small population, numbering <250 mature individuals. Awareness campaigns directed at local people, further surveys and concerted conservation action (the beginnings of which are apparent) appear to be improving its status such that the population may have ceased to decline.

Population justification
The number of birds recorded in 2008 was 135 individuals. However, the complete range was not surveyed and not all birds had been counted. In 2015, the population size was estimated at 300 individuals (Angulo and Riva 2015), roughly equating to 200 mature individuals.

Trend justification
A remote-sensing study found that forest cover had declined across the species’s range at a rate equivalent to 0.6% over three generation lengths (Tracewski et al. 2016). The analysis of survey data suggests that the population size is stable (F. Angulo in litt. 2010), though threats remain, particularly hunting and habitat loss, but their impact is lower following awareness and education campaigns. 

Distribution and population

Penelope albipennis survives in Lambayeque, Piura (Díaz-Montes and del Solar-Rojas 1997) and Cajamarca departments in north-west Peru. Historically, the species was probably well distributed across the Tumbesian dry forest (Angulo and Barrio 2004). More recent surveys have found guans in 38 localities in a band 200 km long with an average of 1 individual/10 km (Díaz-Montes and del Solar-Rojas 1997, Angulo verbally to the Neotropical Ornithological Congress 2007). It was initially discovered in Tumbes in 1876, but there have been no subsequent records there (Díaz-Montes and del Solar-Rojas 1997, J. Flanagan in litt. 2000). An isolated population of a guan with white in its wings exists in the upper Marañon valley (Mark 2011). The population is estimated to number 200 mature individuals (equating to 300 individuals), comprising a northern and southern population separated by up to 30 km (Angulo 2008, Angulo and Riva 2015, F. Angulo in litt. 2009, 2010). The northern population is larger than the southern population, holding about 80% of the individuals (Angulo 2017). A captive-breeding programme is underway, comprising 70 birds in 2007 (F. Angulo in litt. 2009, 2010). Individuals have been reintroduced to several areas, however a population of c. 50 individuals in the Chaparri Private Conservation Area may not be sustainable as it occurs in habitat which may not be suitable for the species, thus the population may require ongoing management to survive (Alcalde et al. 2009, F. Angulo in litt. 2012).


It inhabits dry wooded slopes and ravines at elevations of 300-1,300 m, and may have formerly occurred in lowland carob (Prosopis spp.) forest. It favours valleys with small permanent streams or waterholes, and dry deciduous forest with dense cover and little human disturbance. It inhabits valleys and riparian gallery forests in the dry season and surrounding hillsides during the wet season (Bouffard and Brooks 2014). It feeds on fruit, flowers, leaves, buds and seeds. The species is known to consume parts of the following plants: Bursera graveleolens, Cestrum auriculatum, Cordia lutea, Fuchsia sp., Ludwigia sp., Psisium sp., Muntingia calbaura, Pithecelobium sp., Quararibea cordata, Solanum betaceum and Swartzia obscura (Bouffard and Brooks 2014), and has been observed in agricultural land, feeding on the leaves of maize, beans and sweet potatoes, and the fruit of coffee plants (Ortiz-Tejada and Díaz-Montes 1997). Eriotheca ruizii has been identified as a key plant species for foraging and cover, present at the majority of sites that hold the guan (Servan and Angulo 2006). Breeding occurs in January-August, and two or three eggs are laid (Ortiz-Tejada and Díaz-Montes 1997).


Overhunting, may have caused historical decline and this remains a threat (Angulo 2008) and has hampered reintroduction efforts. Habitat destruction, through clearance for agriculture and cutting for timber, artisanal woodcrafts, charcoal and firewood, is another serious threat, but the species seems to tolerate some habitat modification (Angulo verbally to the Neotropical Ornithological Congress 2007, Angulo 2008). Mining concessions were granted in the northern part of the species's range in 2008. Should minerals be found and exploited suitable habitat will no doubt be destroyed (F. Angulo in litt. 2009, 2010).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I. A national conservation strategy has been devised for the species (Angulo 2005, Angulo 2006). The species and its habitat are legally protected in the Laquipampa Wildlife Refuge, which was established in 1982 specifically to protect the guan. The refuge supports 25-30 individuals as well as 8 re-introduced adults, four of which have bred, and the species appears to be reasonably secure at this site (F. Angulo verbally to the Neotropical Ornithological Congress 2007, F. Angulo in litt. 2009, 2010, 2018, Angulo 2017). The Chaparri Private Conservation Area, nominated in 2001 by Santa Catalina village community, supports a reintroduced population, with c.17 individuals present in 2016 (Angulo 2017). Two new Regional Conservation Areas were created in 2011, Bosque Moyán-Palacios and Bosques Secos de Salitral-Huarmaca, and together these incorporate an area of 373 km2 (Angulo and Diaz-Montes 2012). Currently, the population at Bosque Moyán-Palacios is estimated at 8-10 individuals, while Salitral-Huarmaca holds about 150 individuals (Angulo 2017, F. Angulo in litt. 2018). Plans to establish a protected area at Ñaupe-Racalí-El Pueblito have been underway since 2013 (Angulo 2017). There has been a training workshop for park guards involving members of the Laquipampa and Santa Catalina communities (Flanagan and Williams 2001). Reintroductions have contributed 69 individuals to the current wild population, with successful breeding by captive-raised parents recorded (Angulo 2004, Angulo 2011). Efforts are continuing to identify additional sites across its former range to host reintroductions. El Angolo Hunting Reserve was identified in 2004 as a suitable reintroduction site capable of holding c.6 pairs owing to its favourable protection status and floristic composition (Angulo and Barrio 2004). It lies near the centre of the guan's projected former range (Angulo and Barrio 2004). Surveys have been conducted over a wide area of north-west Peru (Díaz-Montes and del Solar-Rojas 1997). An education/awareness raising campaign has been designed and was implemented in 2008, 2009 and 2010 including an information message broadcast on local radio, and resulted in a 30% increase in knowledge of the species among local people (Angulo 2011, BirdLife International unpublished data 2011). Local people provide a level of protection for a site known as 'Limon', stimulated by ecotourism, which holds 25 individuals. A local NGO is working towards formal protection for the site (Angulo 2011).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor natural and reintroduced populations (Pautrat et al. 2000). Continue and expand local awareness campaigns and monitor the impact of these campaigns on both the populations and the targeted communities (Ortiz-Tejada and O'Neill 1997, Flanagan and Williams 2001, Angulo 2011). Continue to develop dry forest sustainable use strategies such as eco-tourism or apiculture  (Flanagan and Williams 2001, F. Angulo in litt. 2012). Establish a studbook for the species, so that breeders of captive individuals can ensure that a long-term viable captive population is maintained, and research the genetic status of both captive and wild White-winged Guan populations (F. Angulo in litt. 2012). Create a protected area north of the species's known distribution (Angulo et al. 2006). Involve local communities in the conservation strategy for the species (Angulo et al. 2006). Establish the identity of the isolated population of guans in the upper Marañon valley (Mark 2011).


85 cm. Medium-sized, black cracid with white primaries. Whitish flecking on neck, upper breast and wing-coverts. Extensive, bare orange-red or purple throat and double-lobed dewlap. Blue bill with black tip. Purple facial skin around eye. Voice Very deep, hoarse och..och...och, especially at dawn and during breeding season. The call is a sharp cau….cau….cau that can be heard from up to 3 kilometres away.


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Sharpe, C.J., Stuart, T., Wheatley, H., Bird, J., Calvert, R., Benstead, P., Hermes, C., Isherwood, I., Keane, A., Martin, R.

Angulo Pratolongo, F., Flanagan, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Penelope albipennis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 20/10/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 20/10/2021.