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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Creature Feature: Andean Cock-of-the-Rock.

When it comes to names, birds really get the short end of the stick. Even if you are not related to chickens, if you happen to be a brightly-colored male bird, you may get called a cock. This will cause teenagers with dirty minds to snicker at you, and your name will be censored on internet forums. Tough cookies; the tits and boobies of the world share your pain.



The Andean Cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruviana) is one of the few passerines (songbirds) to be compared to a rooster. It lives in the Andean cloud forests of South America. Cocks and hens of the rock are rather shy birds, so whatever data we have of them must have been taken by quiet, patient people. It is also the national bird of Peru.

As usual, the male is the looker of the two sexes. He has a bright red-orange comb and a piercing yellow eye that makes the ladies go wild. Some women we know might go crazy for a disk of orange feathers, too. Point is, this guy is one of the flashier songbirds out there...and how.



Andean cocks are also among the few types of animals to have a mating pattern called a "lek." The males all gather in one area to strut their stuff. The males then fight each other, and, as the female approaches, 'fight' for show. The fight escalates into a brightly-colored cacophony until the female finally picks a mate. Even then, she will not be the only one giving him eggs; like many birds, CotRs are polygamous, and do not tend to the young at all.

Even if it is not quite a rooster, the Andean Cock-of-the-rock does have a fair amount in common with them. The crest and the sheer amount of noise they make when in a lek are probably good indicators of how it got its name. Should one wish for a name without censoring, try "Gallito de Roca" - we're pretty sure the internet censorship rules haven't caught on to Spanish, yet.

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