Its name comes from the Greek Ortalis which means hen and Columbian refers to Colombia, which is the country from which it is endemic.


Small guacharaca of 53 cm in length. It does not exhibit sexual dimorphism. It is characterized by presenting the front part of the neck and chest scaled in white. It has a small red tail, the head is grayish in color and the forehead is white, the body in general exhibits a grayish-brown color. The legs are pink and its long tail is brown.

Similar species

It can be confused with the Variable Guacharaca (Ortalis guttata) in its general appearance, but it differs from it by presenting a white scaly neck and breast, while O. guttata has these parts speckled with white. O. columbiana also exhibits º lighter coloration on the head and belly.

Regional Differences

Two subspecies are recognized: O.c.columbiana and O.c.caucae. These two subspecies are found in Colombia


It is an endemic species of Colombia and is distributed between 100 and 2500 meters above sea level. It is found west of the Andes in the foothills of Valle del Cauca and the Magdalena Valley.


Premontane forests, humid forests and forest edges.


Their diet consists mainly of fruits, having an important role in the dispersal of seeds.


They build the nest in the trees with branches and vegetation. The female lays about two eggs.


It is found most of the time in trees and is observed in pairs or small groups.


It was previously considered a subspecies of Ortalis guttata, but a recent SACC proposal treats O. columbiana as a separate species from O. guttata.

State of conservation

It is considered a species of least concern and according to Birdlife International it is classified as a low risk of extinction as it is a relatively abundant species. In some studies, high priority is recommended in terms of conservation and further investigation of its natural history, since it is an endemic species of Colombia.

Vocalization/ Voice



Avibase 2011. Ortalis columbiana. Downloaded from http://avibase.bsc-eoc.org/species.jsp?lang=ES&avibaseid=1F58D15F8B188713 on 10/07/2011

 Donegan, T. et al. 2010. Revision of the status of bird species occurring in Colombia 2010. Colombian Conservation, Vol 13, pp 25-54.

Hilty, S. L. and W. L. Brown. 2001. Guide to the Birds of Colombia. Princetn. Univ. Press, Princeton, NJ.

IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. . Downloaded on 10 Jul 2011.

Jobling, C. 2010. The Helm dictionary of scientific birds names. Christopher Helm and A & C Black Publishers Ltda. London.

Ochoa, J.M. et al. 2006. Biodiversity Conservation Strategy of the DMI-AICA of the Alicante River Canyon. Corantioquia.

Remsen, J. V., Jr., C. D. Cadena, A. Jaramillo, M. Nores, J. F. Pacheco, J. Pérez-Emán, M. B. Robbins, F. G. Stiles, D. F. Stotz, and K. J. Zimmer. Version 27 June 2011. A classification of the bird species of South America. American Ornithologists’ Union. http://www.museum.lsu.edu/~Remsen/SACCBaseline.html