Psophiidae – Trumpeters

Grey-winged Trumpeter Psophia crepitans ©Mark Van Beirs Website

The Psophiidae commonly called trumpeters, are a family of birds restricted to the humid forests of the Amazon and Guiana Shield in South America. They are named for the trumpeting or cackling threat call of the males. The three species resemble chickens in size; they measure 45cm to 52cm long and weigh 1kg to 1.5kg. They are dumpy birds with long necks and legs and curved bills and a hunched posture. Their heads are small, but their eyes are relatively large, making them look ‘good-natured’. The plumage is soft, resembling fur or velvet on the head and neck. It is mostly black, with purple, green, or bronze iridescence, particularly on the wing coverts and the lower neck. In the best-known taxa the secondary and tertial flight feathers are white, grey, or greenish to black, and hairlike, falling over the lower back, which is the same colour. These colours give the three generally accepted species their names.

Trumpeters fly weakly but run fast; they can easily outrun dogs. They are also capable of swimming across rivers. They spend most of the day in noisy flocks, sometimes numbering more than 100, on the forest floor. They feed on fallen fruit (particularly fruit knocked down by monkeys). They also eat a small amount of arthropods, insects such as ants and flies, and even some reptiles and amphibians. At night they fly with difficulty into trees to roost 6 to 9 metres (20 to 30 feet) above the ground

They nest in a hole in a tree or in the crown of a palm tree. They lay 2 to 5 eggs with rough, white shells, averaging about 76 grams. In the Pale-winged Trumpeter and the Grey-winged Trumpeter groups of adults care for a single clutch.

According to the IOC there are just three species in this family, which are:

Grey-winged Trumpeter Psophia crepitans
Pale-winged Trumpeter Psophia leucoptera
Dark-winged Trumpeter Psophia viridis

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 3

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