Family Guans, Chachalacas, Curassows (Cracidae)


Highland Guan (Penelopina nigra)


French: Pénélope pajuil German: Schluchtenguan Spanish: Pava pajuil

Penelope niger


, 1852,

locality unknown, described from aviary specimens


A very distinctive species, probably most closely related to Chamaepetes. Two subspecies, dickeyi (El Salvador) and rufescens (N Nicaragua), have been described on the basis of variation in the colour of the bare facial skin, but validity very doubtful. Monotypic.


S Mexico (Oaxaca and Chiapas) S to NC Nicaragua.

Descriptive notes

59–65 cm; 866–914 g. Marked sexual dimorphism, with female larger than male, profusely barred and lacking red dewlap; male also has much brighter red bill.... read more


Males give a prolonged, human-sounding whistle, which first rises, peaks and then declines slightly... read more


Wet premontane and montane broadleaved forests of subtropical and temperate zones, generally from... read more

Food and feeding

Berries and other fruits, as well as tender leaves, comprise much of diet (c. 95%); some animal material is often been recorded, including... read more


Season peaks in Mar–May, but perhaps usually lasts Jan–Jun overall; chicks observed in Apr in Guatemala and Oaxaca, Mexico, but... read more


No information available, but presumably largely sedentary although dispersive movements downslope... read more

Status and conservation

VULNERABLE. Previously considered Near Threatened. Population (which is currently thought to number fewer than 91,000 individuals) has certainly been reduced as highland... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Highland Guan (Penelopina nigra). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 20 February 2020).