Family Guans, Chachalacas, Curassows (Cracidae)

Least Concern

Spix's Guan (Penelope jacquacu)


French: Pénélope de Spix German: Spixguan Spanish: Pava amazónica

Penelope jacqúaçu


, 1825,

“in sylvis fl. Solimoëns”


Closely related to P. purpurascens, P. perspicax, P. albipennis and P. obscura. Has been considered conspecific with P. obscura, and formerly with P. purpurascens, but tracheal morphology different. Has hybridized with P. pileata in captivity. Race granti has been considered a separate species, including orienticola as race, but there is extensive intergradation throughout present species. Race speciosa formerly treated as a race of P. obscura. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. j. granti Berlepsch, 1908 – Green-backed Guan – Suriname, Guyana and adjacent E Venezuela S of R Orinoco (extending as far W as NW Amazonas).
  • P. j. orienticola Todd, 1932 – SE Venezuela (C & S Amazonas) and NW Brazil N of R Amazon and R Solimões.
  • P. j. jacquacu Spix, 1825 – Spix’s Guan – Amazonia S of R Amazon and R Solimões in W Brazil, E Colombia, E Ecuador, Peru and N Bolivia.
  • P. j. speciosa Todd, 1915 – C & E Bolivia.
  • Descriptive notes

    66–76 cm; male 1242–1360 g (jacquacu), 1400–1778 g (orienticola); female 1142 g (jacquacu), 1270–1716 g (orienticola... read more


    Wing-whirring display given at dawn or dusk, when one bird (the presumed male) also gives loud... read more


    Humid rain and cloudforest, including both terra firme and seasonally flooded forest,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Few detailed, long-term studies of diet, but mainly small fruits, e.g. of palms (including Euterpe edulis and E. precatoria... read more


    Mostly Jan–May in S Venezuela; one nest in Apr and one male in breeding condition in Aug in Colombia; said to begin in Aug–Sept... read more


    No information available; presumably sedentary.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common in many parts of range, except in densely populated areas or where forest has been cleared. In populated areas has changed its... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Spix's Guan (Penelope jacquacu). 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 21 February 2020).