Bird of the Week, September 7, 2012
Palkachupa Cotinga


Palkachupa Cotinga by Juan Carlos Atienza



This beautiful cotinga has a distinctive long, forked tail, dark mask, bright yellow-orange throat, and pale yellow underparts patterned with black barring and spotting. Males and females appear similar. This species feeds by flycatching in the forest canopy and eating fruits. It nests in trees along forest edges, and even in isolated trees among savannah-type habitat, in loose colonies of up to five pairs.


The species was unrecorded for 98 years until its rediscovery by ABC partner Associacion Armonía in 2000. It was elevated to full species status in 2011 based on evidence presented by Bennett Hennessey in The Wilson Journal of Ornithology (the bird was originally thought to be a subspecies of the Swallow-tailed Cotinga, which occurs 1,400 miles away in Brazil).


Eighty percent of the Palkachupa Cotinga's habitat has been destroyed by clearing and burning forest for firewood and pasture; unfortunately, this destruction is ongoing.  Parts of the cotinga's former range are now completely treeless. Nesting success in remaining habitat is low; predation by jays and severe weather are the biggest causes of breeding failure.


In 2010, a 145-acre reserve was established for the species. ABC has supported Armonía's work to study and conserve the Palkachupa Cotinga and continues to seek additional support for land-use planning and management, with the cooperation of the local community.





Photo: Juan Carlos Atienza; Range Map, ABC