Cock-of-the-Rock Facts

The Andean Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicola peruvianus) is the strikingly-beautiful, national bird of Peru. Here are some facts about this idiosyncratic species … and where to find them:

  • The Cock-of-the-Rock gets its name from its tendency to build nests on rocks and ledges.

  • It inhabits cloud forest areas at 500 - 2,400 m (1,600 - 7,900 ft) in elevation.

  • Its diet consists mainly of fruit and insects, as well as small frogs and reptiles.

  • It tends to forage for food on its own, although it is occasionally possible to see groups of up to three.

  • It is actually the male that has the bright plumage. The female has brown feathers. This difference in appearance between the genders is known as ‘sexual dimorphism’.

  • Male Cocks-of-the-Rock devote a lot of energy to attracting females at communal areas called leks. Here they display their plumage and compete with other males, in remarkable duels.

  • These ‘confrontation displays’ consist of jumping, wing-flapping, noisy squawking and bill-snapping. This activity intensifies, if a female approaches!

  • Males are polygamous and are not involved with the nest-building or chick-rearing.

  • Females build the nest from mud and vegetation, bound together with her own saliva, in the shape of a concave cup.

  • Females usually lay two eggs in the nest, and incubates these for up to 28 days.

  • Cocks-of-the-Rock have a number of predators, including birds of prey, jaguar, puma, ocelot and the boa constrictor.

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How to see the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock:

Although its range covers some 260,000 sq km (100,000 sq miles) across Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela, it is a shy creature and so you need dedication - or good luck - to see one up close. So, while they inhabit the cloud forest around Gocta Waterfall, for example, you are unlikely to see one while walking there and back.

The best way to see a Cock-of-the-Rock, then, is on a Birding itinerary, such as: