cotinga (kōtĭngˈgə) [key], any of the New World tropical birds of the family Cotingidae. Cotingas range from N Argentina to the southern border of the United States; most are forest species and inhabit the highest treetops. Although there is great variation in appearance among these birds, all have broad bills with slightly hooked tips, rounded wings, and strong short legs. Some species are dull-colored, with little difference between males and females; in many species, however, the males are brightly colored and have curiously modified wing and head feathers. The umbrella birds (genus Cephalopterus ), found from Central America to Argentina, have a black, umbrellalike crest, which is raised and expanded during courtship displays, and feathered throat wattles nearly as long as the bird itself. The bellbirds (genus Procnias ), found from Central America to Argentina, have a distinctive bell-like call; they are marked by feather-studded, fleshy protuberances drooping over their bills. Both the male and the female cock-of-the-rock (genus Rupicola ) are marked by a fan-shaped crest of feathers, which extends from bill tip to the top of the head. There are two cock-of-the-rock species; in R. rupicola, of the Guianas, the male is golden-orange with black wings and tail, while in R. peruviana, of the Andes, the male is bright red with similar markings. In both species the female is olive brown. The cock-of-the-rock, a terrestrial bird, performs a communal mating ritual in which males go through stylized stances and acrobatics. There are about 90 species of cotingas classified in 33 genera of the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Passeriformes, family Cotingidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.