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Version 1.0

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White-winged Guan Penelope albipennis

Ferrnando Angulo Pratolongo
Version: 1.0 — Published June 3, 2011


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White-winged Guan follows a regular daily routine. Calling may begin as early as 04:00, and active movement starts at dawn, between 05:00 and 05:30 am. At first light, they move to feeding trees, where they spend part of the morning until 08:00 or 09:00. Later, they drink water and remain grooming or resting under shade for the rest of the day until 16:30-17:00, when they start again looking for food and water, before they head to a tree where they roost overnight.


The White-winged Guan is a territorial bird and is usually found in pairs or family groups of 3 to 5 individuals, mostly formed by the parents and offspring of the previous breeding season. Chicks remain with the parents until they reach the age of one year. Once a couple is formed, White-winged Guan stay together throughout the year, and over successive years.

Territorial encounters between White-winged Guans are frequent. The territory of a couple is demarcated by landmarks, that can be rocks, trees or any place of remarkable features. Males fight aggressively to defend their territories. Territoriality during the dry season is much more pronounced than in the rainy season, because resources (water, food and cover) become scarce.

Sexual Behavior

There is no sexual dimorphism in the White-winged Guan, but some differences can be detected in behavior. Males are more aggressive and during breeding season, whereas females spend more time with chicks while males are alert and defending the territory.

Courtship behavior consists in the male chasing female with the tail up and opened, with the wings spread, showing the white patches, and with the head down. The female runs and flies until she is reached by the male, who steps upon the female when copulation occurs. This lasts a few seconds and can be repeated several times a day. 

Social and interspecific behavior

The White-winged Guan is found mostly in territorial pairs. Pairs remain together throughout the whole year, and in successive years. After the breeding season, guans are in family groups of 3 to 5 individuals. Sometimes, immatures of different ages can be found together.

During the breeding season, it is common to find several couples or family groups (up to 12-15 birds),  feeding on the same fruiting trees, mostly large Ficus trees.


There is basically three types of predation on the White-winged Guan: on the adult or fully grown birds; on chicks; and on eggs. The following table shows the known predators of the wild White-winged Guans:

Predators of the White-winged Guan
English NameScientific NameType of predation
Solitary EagleHarpyhaliaetus solitariusAdults, chicks
Variable HawkButeo polyosomaChicks
Black-chested Buzzard-EagleGeranoaetus melanoleucusAdults, chicks
Harris's HawkParabuteo unicinctusAdults, chicks
White-tailed JayCyanocorax mystacalisEggs
Sechura FoxPseudalopex sechuraeAdults, chicks
Guayaquil SquirrelSciurus stramineus Eggs
Pampas CatLeopardus colocolo Adults, chicks
TayraEira barbaraAdults, chicks, eggs
Black-eared OpossumDidelphis marsupialisChicks, eggs
MacancheBoa constrictor ortoniiChicks, eggs

The list above are the natural predators of the species. But the worst predator of this guan is the human.

Recommended Citation

Angulo Pratolongo, F. (2011). White-winged Guan (Penelope albipennis), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.whwgua1.01