The Rupicola genus of Birds

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The Cock-of-The-Rock is a "familiar name," according to Swainson in 1837 (Classification of Birds ii. page 76), "long bestowed" on a bird from the northern parts of South America.  However, his seems to be the first rendering into English of the old French Coq-de-roche, or Coc-des-roches as Barrere (Fr. Equinox. page 132) has it.

The flat-sided crest borne by the bird was likened by the colonists to that of the Hoopoe, and accordingly Swainson in 1745 (Ornithol. page 46) placed it in the genus Upupa, while Edwards a few years after drew its head (Gleanings, plate 264) as that of the "Hoopoe Hen," having received it, it from Surinam under the name of Widdehop (Hoopoe), and thus Linnaeus was originally induced to follow their example, though finally he referred it to the genus Pipra (MANAKIN).  Meanwhile, Brisson, who first gave a good description and illustration of it, made it in 1760 the representative of a new genus Rupicola. In 1769 Vosmaer again illustrated it, expressing his surprise that theDutch authors, who had described so many beautiful creatures from their possessions in South America, had never mentioned this remarkable bird.

It has now for many years been recognized as The genus Rupicola. Within this genus there are two species.  The first, the Guianan Cock-of-the-rock (R. Rupicola) has an almost wholly orange-coloured plumage, as well as its disk-like crest, which render it beautifully conspicuous. It inhabits Guiana, and the lower countries of the Amazons.  Further to the westward it is replaced by the more deeply-tinted Andean Cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruviana).  Both species mainly feed on friuts.  The male Cock-of-the-rock is polygamous.  He will take his own space within an shared arena where he will display with other birds of this same species in an attempt to attract a female.  The female bird builds her shallow nest created from mud and plant matter on rocky walls.

The genus is now generally placed in the Family Cotingidae (Chatterer), though Garrod, on account of certain differences in the formation of the crural arteries, which seem to be of no great taxonomic value, had separated it from them in the 19th Century.


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