- Rusty-margined Guan
 - Rusty-margined Guan
 - Rusty-margined Guan
 - Rusty-margined Guan

Rusty-margined Guan Penelope superciliaris Scientific name definitions

Josep del Hoyo and Guy M. Kirwan
Version: 1.0 — Published March 4, 2020
Text last updated April 19, 2016

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Editor's Note: This is a shorter format account, originally published in HBW Alive. Please consider contributing your expertise to update and expand this account.

The Rusty-margined Guan is a common and widespread guan of tropical and subtropical forest of eastern South America south of the Amazon River. It can be found throughout much of eastern Brazil, Paraguay, eastern Bolivia, and extreme Northeast Argentina. The Rusty-margined Guan inhabits a wide variety of habitats within its range, from dry chaco scrub and cerrado to the low humid forests of southwest Brazil and Northeast Argentina. It has a pale to buff supercilium, and is overall dark olive to brownish, with reddish edges ot the wing coverts and scapulars. Though often surprisingly difficult to locate, once spotted, it is usually confiding and can often  allow for close approach and extended views, especially when perched in a low tree. The Rusty-margined Guan forages on the ground and in trees, where it eats fruit and seeds.


55–73 cm; 950–1150 g (superciliaris), 750–880 g (jacupemba). Pale supercilium  , black ear-coverts and chestnut-orange edgings of inner wing feathers . Immature very similar to adult. Races vary in size, tone of general coloration (paler and duller throughout in <em>jacupemba</em> , but darker in <em>major</em> ) (1) and broadness and tone of wing feather fringes (paler and very narrow in major  and often brighter and usually broader in <em>jacupemba</em> ) (1); supercilium also differs, in <em>jacupemba</em> being very distinct and often ochraceous or rich buff, rather than white.

Systematics History

Editor's Note: This article requires further editing work to merge existing content into the appropriate Subspecies sections. Please bear with us while this update takes place.

May be closely related to P. marail. Has hybridized in captivity with P. purpurascens, P. pileata and Pipile cujubi. Described race cyanosparius (from headwaters of R Maués, in E Amazonas, in Brazil) apparently based on captive specimens, and further study needed; race alagoensis, described at same time by same author (but from NE Brazil) (2), has since been observed in the field and found to be distinctive (3, 4). Proposed races ochromitra (from near Parnaguá, in S Piauí) and argyomitra (NW of Forte, in NE Goiás) are synonymized with jacupemba, and pseudonyma (from R Canhuma, near R Madeira, in Amazonas) with nominate. Four subspecies recognized.



Penelope superciliaris superciliaris Scientific name definitions

NC and E Brazil S of Amazon (S to Maranhão).


Penelope superciliaris jacupemba Scientific name definitions

Central and s Brazil to e Bolivia


Penelope superciliaris major Scientific name definitions

E Paraguay, NE Argentina (Misiones) and extreme SE Brazil (Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul).


Editor's Note: Additional distribution information for this taxon can be found in the 'Subspecies' article above. In the future we will develop a range-wide distribution article.


Heavy forest , forest borders, semi-deciduous woodland (5), gallery forest, capoeira, coastal restinga (5), forest groves in cerrado woodlands, caatinga, river and lake edges, mangroves, campos rupestres (6) and even Eucalyptus plantations (5). In E Bolivia, prefers drier vine forests, in areas where Crax, Mitu and Pipile favour seasonally flooded habitats, and Penelope jacquacu occurs in terra firme forests (7). Apparently able to persist in forest patches as small as 0·3 ha, and perhaps favours edge habitats in the presence of congeners (5). Usually in lowlands; recorded at 1100 m at Serra do Japi, São Paulo, and to 1300 m in the Serra do Caraça, Minas Gerais (5). In E São Paulo, P. superciliaris and P. obscura are largely exclusive of each other, only being found syntopically very locally or seasonally (8).


Sedentary. In study at several sites in São Paulo, daily altitudinal movements detected, involving vertical differences of up to 400 m: in Mata do Pau Furado and in Serra do Japi, birds usually spend night in highest parts and move down to feed in lower parts, returning higher only in late afternoon. In SE Brazil small groups occupy 8–11 ha or 10–17 ha in secondary restinga and secondary subtropical forest, respectively (5). Rarely makes flights longer than c. 20 m, usually much shorter (5).

Diet and Foraging

Mainly ripe (5) fruits, including those of bicuiba (Virola), sapacaia (Lecythis), murici (Byrsonima), aricanga palm (Geonoma), guarumo (Cecropia), Schinus, Psidium, Syagrus and Byrbicuiba; fruits of two exotic species, Coffea arabica (Africa) and Eriobo­trya japonica (Asia), also found to constitute important part of diet in São Paulo; in this study, present species was considered to be non-specialized frugivore (especially compared to the partially sympatric P. obscura and Pipile jacutinga) (5), both in terms of species (117) (5) and size of fruits taken (from 3–5 mm upwards) (5); some insects occasionally taken, both adults (Hymenoptera, Coleoptera) and larvae (Lepidoptera). Another study in São Paulo observed that flowers and leaves were consumed mainly in the dry season (9). Further S in Brazil, in Paraná, another dietary study revealed less catholicity (55 species), but was heavily biased towards fruits of Euterpe edulis (Arecaceae), especially in Feb–Sept, with Dendropanax cuneatum (Araliaceae) also particularly important (10), while a study in NE Brazil (Ceará) recorded just 14 plant species, with fruit diameter ranging from c. 6·3 mm (Miconia albicans) to 29·9 mm (Psidium sp.) and yellow was the most frequent fruit colour (41·6%), with two species each (16·6%) of black, green and red fruits, and fleshy baccates (50%) and drupes (33·3%) most consumed (11); in neighbouring Piauí, recorded feeding on Ephedranthus sp. and Ziziphus joazeiro (12). In captive study of chicks, P. superciliaris showed no greater acceptance of range of fruits than Crax fasciolata and C. blumenbachii (13). Some seeds, including those of the palm Syagrus romanzoffiana (Arecaceae) are defecated alive, thereby demonstrating this species to be a seed-disperser like other Penelope for which good data are available (5). Ingests small pebbles and grains of quartz to aid digestion (5). Although primarily arboreal (generally 5–10 m above ground) (9), occurring at variable levels, is often recorded feeding on ground . Forages singly, in pairs, or in groups of up to ten birds (latter principally in Jul–Aug in SE Brazil) (5).

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

Poorly described in the literature; gives gruff barking  (occasionally more throaty) calls, typical of most Penelope, apparently in alarm, but probably in other contexts too; sometimes rather low, run together, but increasing in volume with time, sounding like the “huffing” of a steamtrain starting  , but also given in more measured series  .


Season Oct–Feb in N Argentina and probably Aug–Feb in SE Brazil (Paraná) (5), where nest with eggs in Oct in São Paulo  , young in Oct  , Nov External link , Jan  and Feb  in Rio de Janeiro; in NE Brazil (Ceará) well-grown young in Jun#R  and nests with eggs in Feb (Rio Grande do Norte) (14); in E Amazonian Brazil (Pará) well-grown young  in Nov; in Paraguay eggshells found mid Sept (5). Suspected to be polygynous in some regions (14). Nest a platform of twigs (45 cm in diameter and 19 cm tall) (14), lined with both live and dead leaves  and stems, sited in a tree; once just 0·5 above ground among the leaves of a terrestrial bromeliad (Aechmea aquilega), while another was 2·6 m up (14). Lays three dirty cream-white eggs#R  , on alternate days (1), size 55·5–64·3 mm × 38–42·1 mm, mass 42·5–61·5 g (14); incubation 28 days (26–27 in captivity). Chick generally dark above, especially on wings, with pale buff bars on wing-coverts, very dark head with paler (whitish or buff) superciliary, rufous face and breast, and whitish underparts  ; on hatching chicks weigh 43–47 g, reaching 200 g after 1 month, 625 g at three months, and 900 g at six months, by which time plumage identical to adult (1).

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Nominate race has apparently declined in many parts of range; not recorded since at least 1960 from around Belém and Santarém, Pará; scarce in Amazônia (Tapajós) National Park, Pará, but recorded from Serra dos Carajás  mosiac of protected areas and elsewhere within state. Race jacupemba still fairly common in many parts of range, including several national parks, but has been extirpated or has declined considerably in others (it being hunted even within protected areas) (5); small, isolated populations in São Paulo; reported to be rare in Poconé region (N Pantanal), Mato Grosso. Reasonably common within small Bolivian range, where mainly recorded from three protected areas, Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, Ríos Blanco y Negro Wildlife Reserve and San Matías Natural Area (5). Race major has very restricted distribution in Argentina; currently frequent in Iguazú National Park (55,000 ha), Misiones, especially in core area, where quite tame; also present in Urugua-í Provincial Park, Misiones, where 4–5 birds seen in 1985; unrecorded recently in other areas of Argentina, although Arroyo Aguaray Guazú region, where species was common at least until 1940s, has not been surveyed in recent times. This race was formerly more widespread in E Paraguay too, where decline mainly due to deforestation (5). Collected in Rio Grande do Sul, S Brazil, up to end of 19th century, but only recently rediscovered there (15) despite being well known from immediately adjacent parts of Santa Catarina. Despite legal protection, known to be hunted in N Argentina. Uncommon in collections, but there is a captive-breeding programme reintroducing birds into the wild in São Paulo (5).

Distribution of the Rusty-margined Guan
  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the Rusty-margined Guan

Recommended Citation

del Hoyo, J. and G. M. Kirwan (2020). Rusty-margined Guan (Penelope superciliaris), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.rumgua1.01