long-wattled umbrellabird

The Long-Wattled Umbrellabird: A Masterpiece of Evolution

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If you thought the American turkey had a serious wattle, wait til you see the wattle on this guy! If you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the mating displays of the long-wattled umbrellabird, you’ll be amazed by its namesake feature.

There’s more to this bird than its wattle, however, so read on to learn all about this rare and fascinating bird.


The long-wattled umbrellabird is an all-black bird with feathers that extend forward over its head and bill, just like an umbrella. The male of the species is distinguished by an extremely long wattle, a piece of skin that extends from the neck or chest of some bird species.

The inflatable wattle of this bird is covered in bristly black feathers that extend outward when inflated in a mating display. This wattle can extend to 13 or 14 inches in length for males, while females and immature birds have a much smaller wattle or none at all.

The male long-wattled umbrellabird grows to be around 16 inches tall, while the female is smaller at around 14 to 14.5 inches in height.

Home and Habitat

This bird can be found in the wet, humid forests of Colombia and Ecuador. They occupy the ridges and sides of the Andes mountain range at elevations of 1,500-1,800m above sea level.

The long-wattled umbrellabird’s habitat is called a montane forest, which describes a forest that grows at a high elevation, but not so high that trees can’t take root.

Call of the Long-Wattled Umbrellabird

Male long-wattled umbrellabirds produce a low, booming sound and low-pitched grunts when showing off for potential mates.


These fascinating birds live on a diet of lizards, insects, and fruit, but their preferred food source is large fruits. Their frugivorous tendencies benefit the entire forest, as they regurgitate the larger seeds of the fruits they eat, distributing them across their habitat.

Long-wattled umbrellabird chicks are fed hourly by their mother and receive a diet of regurgitated food.


These birds do not migrate overland but do migrate up and down the mountain to different altitudes, traveling to higher altitudes during the breeding season and returning to the lowlands and foothills during the non-breeding season.


Given the opportunity to live a long and happy life, the long-wattled umbrellabird is thought to have a lifespan of around 16 years in the wild. Unfortunately, this bird does face threats.

Like many other animal species, this bird’s biggest threat is habitat loss. They are also hunted or captured as pets, and their large size and conspicuous nature can make them easy targets.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the Long-Wattled Umbrellabird Fly?

This bird is a clumsy flyer and prefers to walk or hop from branch to branch in the forest canopy.

What Is a lek?

A lek is a group of male birds that gather to take part in a mating display. Females come to observe the display and choose a mate. Long-wattled umbrellabirds are one species that engages in lek mating, where they show off their long wattles and deep, booming calls that can be heard from up to a mile away.

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