Cotingidae – Cotingas, Fruiteaters & Allies

Andean Cock-of-the-rock Rupicola peruvianus ©Dr George Cruz Website

The cotingas are a large family of passerine bird species found in Central America and tropical South America. They live in deserts, open woodlands, coastal mangroves, and humid tropical forests. Cotingas face very serious threats from loss of their habitats. However, cotingas are generally birds of forests or forest edges, and mostly eat fruit or insects and fruit. Comparatively little is known about this diverse group, although all have broad bills with hooked tips, rounded wings, and strong legs. They may be the most diverse passerine family in body size, ranging from 8 centimetres to the world’s largest suboscine in the 50 centimetres male Amazonian Umbrellabird.

Cotingas vary widely in social structure. There is a roughly 50/50 divide in the family between species with biparental care, and those in which the males play no part in raising the young. The Purple-throated Fruitcrow lives in mixed-sex groups in which one female lays an egg and the others help provide insects to the chick.

In cotinga species where only the females care for the eggs and young, the males have striking courtship displays, often grouped together in leks. Such sexual selection results in the males of these species, including the Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, being brightly coloured, or decorated with plumes or wattles, like the umbrellabirds, with their umbrella-like crest and long throat wattles. Other lekking cotingids like the bellbirds, have distinctive and far-carrying calls. In such canopy-dwelling genera as Carpodectes, Cotinga, and Xipholena, males gather high in a single tree or in adjacent trees, but male cocks-of-the-rock, as befits their more terrestrial lives, give their elaborate displays in leks on the ground.

The females of both lekking and biparental species are duller than the males.

Nests range from tiny to very large. Many species lay a single egg in a nest so flimsy that the egg can be seen from underneath. This may make the nests hard for predators to find. Fruiteaters build more solid cup nests, and the cocks-of-the-rock attach their mud nests to cliffs.The nests may be open cups or little platforms with loosely woven plant material, usually placed in a tree. The clutches comprise one to four eggs. Incubation typically takes fifteen to twenty-eight days. Fledging usually occurs at 28-33 days

After recent revision of this family following DNA sequencing, most authorities agree that there are 66 species in this family; they are:

Red-crested Cotinga Ampelion rubrocristatus
Chestnut-crested Cotinga Ampelion rufaxilla

Swallow-tailed Cotinga Phibalura flavirostris
Palkachupa Cotinga Phibalura boliviana

White-cheeked Cotinga Zaratornis stresemanni

Chestnut-bellied Cotinga Doliornis remseni
Bay-vented Cotinga Doliornis sclateri

Peruvian Plantcutter Phytotoma raimondii
White-tipped Plantcutter Phytotoma rutila
Rufous-tailed Plantcutter Phytotoma rara

Hooded Berryeater Carpornis cucullata
Black-headed Berryeater Carpornis melanocephala

Green-and-black Fruiteater Pipreola riefferii
Band-tailed Fruiteater Pipreola intermedia
Barred Fruiteater Pipreola arcuata
Golden-breasted Fruiteater Pipreola aureopectus
Orange-breasted Fruiteater Pipreola jucunda
Black-chested Fruiteater Pipreola lubomirskii
Masked Fruiteater Pipreola pulchra
Scarlet-breasted Fruiteater Pipreola frontalis
Fiery-throated Fruiteater Pipreola chlorolepidota
Handsome Fruiteater Pipreola formosa
Red-banded Fruiteater Pipreola whitelyi

Scaled Fruiteater Ampelioides tschudii

Guianan Cock-of-the-rock Rupicola rupicola
Andean Cock-of-the-rock Rupicola peruvianus

Guianan Red Cotinga Phoenicircus carnifex
Black-necked Red Cotinga Phoenicircus nigricollis

Lovely Cotinga Cotinga amabilis
Turquoise Cotinga Cotinga ridgwayi
Blue Cotinga Cotinga nattererii
Plum-throated Cotinga Cotinga maynana
Purple-breasted Cotinga Cotinga cotinga
Banded Cotinga Cotinga maculata
Spangled Cotinga Cotinga cayana

Three-wattled Bellbird Procnias tricarunculatus
White Bellbird Procnias albus
Bearded Bellbird Procnias averano
Bare-throated Bellbird Procnias nudicollis

Black-and-gold Cotinga Tijuca atra
Grey-winged Cotinga Tijuca condita

Chestnut-capped Piha Lipaugus weberi
Dusky Piha Lipaugus fuscocinereus
Scimitar-winged Piha Lipaugus uropygialis
Rufous Piha Lipaugus unirufus
Screaming Piha Lipaugus vociferans
Cinnamon-vented Piha Lipaugus lanioides
Rose-collared Piha Lipaugus streptophorus

Black-faced Cotinga Conioptilon mcilhennyi

Grey-tailed Piha Snowornis subalaris
Olivaceous Piha Snowornis cryptolophus

Purple-throated Cotinga Porphyrolaema porphyrolaema

Pompadour Cotinga Xipholena punicea
White-tailed Cotinga Xipholena lamellipennis
White-winged Cotinga Xipholena atropurpurea

Black-tipped Cotinga Carpodectes hopkei
Snowy Cotinga Carpodectes nitidus
Yellow-billed Cotinga Carpodectes antoniae

Bare-necked Fruitcrow Gymnoderus foetidus

Purple-throated Fruitcrow Querula purpurata

Crimson Fruitcrow Haematoderus militaris

Red-ruffed Fruitcrow Pyroderus scutatus

Capuchinbird Perissocephalus tricolor

Bare-necked Umbrellabird Cephalopterus glabricollis
Amazonian Umbrellabird Cephalopterus ornatus
Long-wattled Umbrellabird Cephalopterus penduliger

Species Links
  • Blue Cotinga Cotinga nattererii

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • Blue Cotinga Cotinga nattererii

    Species Account
    The blue cotinga (Cotinga nattererii) is a species of bird in the family Cotingidae. It is found in Colombia, north-west Ecuador, eastern and central Panama and western Venezuela in tropical moist lowland forests and heavily degraded former forest.
  • Blue Cotinga Cotinga nattererii

    Cornell Species Account
    A brilliantly-colored, turquoise-blue songbird of humid, tropical forests, the Blue Cotinga has a restricted range and is only found in parts of Panama, Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador.
  • Pompadour Cotinga Xipholena punicea

    IUCN Species Status
    This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion
  • Pompadour Cotinga Xipholena punicea

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • Pompadour Cotinga Xipholena punicea

    Species Account
    The pompadour cotinga (Xipholena punicea) is a species of bird in the family Cotingidae, the cotingas.
  • Pompadour Cotinga Xipholena punicea

    Cornell Species Account
    The Pompadour Cotinga is one of those birds that makes the Neotropical avifauna one of the gaudiest collections of organisms on the planet. Males are a striking metallic burgundy with bright white wings; females are charcoal gray with a white belly and blackish wings.
  • Purple-breasted Cotinga Cotinga cotinga

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • Purple-breasted Cotinga Cotinga cotinga

    Species Account
    The purple-breasted cotinga (Cotinga cotinga) is a species of bird in the family Cotingidae. It is found in Brazil, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests.
  • Purple-breasted Cotinga Cotinga cotinga

    Cornell Species Account
    The color of the upperparts in the male Purple-breasted Cotinga is a deep blue, rather than the pale turquoise-blue of the rather larger male Spangled Cotinga (Cotinga cayana), which species is the only broadly sympatric congener.
  • Spangled Cotinga Cotinga cayana

    IUCN Species Status
    This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion
  • Spangled Cotinga Cotinga cayana

    Species Account
    The spangled cotinga (Cotinga cayana) is a species of bird in the family Cotingidae, the cotingas. It is found in the canopy of the Amazon Rainforest in South America.
  • Spangled Cotinga Cotinga cayana

    Cornell Species Account
    The brightly-plumaged Spangled Cotinga is a widespread Amazonian species, ranging from the base of the Andes east to the Guyanas. It is a member of the genus Cotinga that frequents the canopy of terra firme forest. Males are bright turquoise blue with extensive black “spangling” on the wings and back, and has a light purple throat.
  • Spangled Cotinga Cotinga cayana

    Species Account
    Image (poor) & info
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 66

  • Cotinga

    This is the journal of the Neo-tropical Bird Club

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