White-browed guan -- 白眉冠雉 (Penelope jacucaca)

White-browed guan
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White-browed guan fact file

White-browed guan description

GenusPenelope (1)

The white-browed guan is a medium-sized bird of the Cracidae family, a group of birds which are similar in appearance to turkeys. Its plumage is various shades of warm brown, with striking white streaks on its upperwings, and (2), like all guans, it has a distinctive patch of bare, red skin on its throat (3). The eyes are brown and the bare skin of the face is black (2). The white-browned guan possesses prominent white eyebrows, from which it acquires its name (4), a yellowish bill, and reddish feet (2).

Length: 65 – 70 cm (2)

White-browed guan biology

Little is known about the life history of the white-browed guan (4). The breeding season of this species varies across the bird’s range; depending on the climate and arrival of the rainy season, breeding can take place at any time from October through to May in some areas (6). The white-browed guan typically lays a clutch of three to four eggs (6).


White-browed guan range

Found only in north-eastern Brazil, the white-browed guan today apparently occurs in three distinct populations: south of the Rio São Francisco; north-east of the Rio São Francisco; and south-east Piauí to west Ceará. It once had a larger range, extending into the coastal areas of Alagoas, Pernambuco or Paraíba, but is now thought to be extinct in these areas (5).


White-browed guan habitat

The white-browed guan inhabits dry, lowland forest and caatinga, a particular type of habitat of north-eastern Brazil defined by small thorny trees and shrubs (5)


White-browed guan status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


White-browed guan threats

North-eastern Brazil is the poorest region in the country (5), and has a long-standing tradition of hunting (6). The white-browed guan is unfortunately an attractive target to hunters for its meat, due to its large size (5) (6), and is taken even from within so-called protected areas (5). A second devastating impact on this species is the intensive deforestation and degradation of the habitats it occupies (5).


White-browed guan conservation

Surveys have shown that the white-browned guan occurs in a number of protected areas (5); however, reserves with better law enforcement, and hence financial backing, are needed in order to protect the species from hunters (6). The Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, or IBAMA, is developing a conservation action plan for birds in the Cracidae family, which will include the white-browed guan (5). Other conservation measures have also been proposed, such as the development of a specific action plan for the white-browed guan and its habitat, but ultimately, the need to initiate local awareness campaigns to combat hunting in protected areas is imperative (5).


Find out more

To find out about conservation efforts in Brazil visit:

For more information on this and other bird species please see:



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

This species information was authored as part of the Arkive and Universities Scheme.


  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2009)
  2. Blake, E.R. (1977) Manuel of Neotropical Birds. Volume 1. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
  3. Hilty, S.L. and Brown, W.L. (1986) A Guide to the Birds of Colombia. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.
  4. Vaurie, C. (1966) Systematic Notes on the Bird Family Cracidae. No. 6. Review of Nine Species of Penelope. American Museum Novitates, 2251: 1-30.
  5. BirdLife International (November, 2009)
  6. Redies, H. (2009) Birds of Ceará. Brazil. Associação Mãe-da-lua, Brazil. Available at:

Image credit

White-browed guan  
White-browed guan

© Andy & Gill Swash / WorldWildlifeImages.com

Andy & Gill Swash
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