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Amazonian Pygmy-Owl, Glaucidium hardyi

Bird Checklist of Guyana cover: Opisthocomus hoazin, the Hoatzin 
or Canje Pheasant by Dan Lane



Michael J. Braun 1, Davis W. Finch 2, Mark B. Robbins 3, and Brian K. Schmidt 4

Produced under the auspices of the
Centre for the Study of Biological Diversity
University of Guyana
Georgetown, Guyana

Publication 41 of the
Biological Diversity of the Guianas Program
National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, DC, USA


To the Bird Checklist


This publication presents a comprehensive list of the birds of Guyana with summary information on their habitats, biogeographical affinities, migratory behavior and abundance, in a format suitable for use in the field. It should facilitate field identification, especially when used in conjunction with an illustrated work such as Guide to the Birds of Venezuela (Meyer de Schauensee and Phelps 1978). It is part of a series of comprehensive lists of the flora and fauna of Guyana being developed by the Biological Diversity of the Guianas Program, Smithsonian and the Centre for the Study of Biological Diversity, Univeristy of Guyana (Boggan et al. 1997,

The list includes 786 species that have been documented as occurring in Guyana. It builds upon the long out-of-print work of Snyder (1966), who listed 720 species. Her list is largely treated as authoritative, but 10 species are removed for lack of concrete documentation. These are Tinamus tao, Butorides virescens, Columba fasciata, Crotophaga sulcirostris, Pharomachrus fulgidus, Picumnus minutissimus, Iodopleura pipra, Loxigilla noctis, and Gymnomystax mexicanus. Seventy-four species are added, and an additional 2 species result from 8 taxonomic changes (3 lumps, 5 splits). Thus, more than 10% of the list is new since Snyder (1966).

Species included are those whose occurrence in the country is supported by physical evidence (specimen, photograph, sound recording, or band recovery) or written documentation of a sight record by a reliable, experienced observer (see below). The classification and nomenclature herein are based on the Check-list of North American Birds (American Ornithologists' Union 1998), Ridgely and Tudor (1989, 1994), Monroe and Sibley (1993), and Traylor (1979), with minor revisions judged by the authors to be justified by recent research.


Abbreviations and symbols are used for various categories of habitat, endemism, migration and abundance. The endemism and habitat codes follow Stotz et al. (1996); some habitat codes are modified to reflect the authors' experience in Guyana.


LF Lowland forest, including both terra firme and seasonally flooded forest
MF Montane forest
RI Riverine habitats, including waters, islands, banks, waterfalls, and riparian forests
MA Marine or salt water habitats, including coastal and pelagic waters
MU Mudflats and coastal beaches
FW Fresh water habitats, including lakes, conservancies, ponds, oxbows, marshes, and canals
MN Mangrove forest
HU Habitats altered by humans, such as gardens, towns, roadsides, agricultural lands, disturbed forests and forest edge
SV Savanna grasslands
SC Scrub or brush habitats, including white sand scrub, bush islands, and dense, low second growth
PA Palm trees and forests


GUI Restricted to the Guianas and adjacent Venezuela and Brazil
TEP Restricted to the tepui highlands of Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana. In Guyana, these include the Pakaraima and Merume Mountains.
AMN Restricted to Amazonian (and Guianan) lowlands north of the Amazon
NEA Nearctic migrant; except for shorebirds, these occur September - May and are absent in the northern summer months of June - August.
AUS Austral migrant; typically present May - September


C Common; more than 20 individuals encountered daily in prime habitat and season
F Fairly common; 5-20 individuals encountered daily in prime habitat and season
U Uncommon; present in small numbers (fewer than 5 individuals per day); not encountered daily even in prime habitat and season
S Scarce; only occasionally encountered in small numbers even in prime habitat and season
? Occurs in Guyana but status unclear due to scarcity of data
E Extirpated; no longer occurs, probably as a result of hunting (Horned Screamer)
+ Extinct (Eskimo Curlew)
L Local; used with other abundance codes to indicate that a species' distribution in the country is patchy and that it is absent from large areas of apparently suitable habitat.
[ ] Sight records only (19 species)
* Reported for Guyana in the ornithological literature, but doubtful due to difficulty of identification or the possibility of human introduction (10 species)


While this list contains much new information, much remains to be learned. Every effort should be made to document observations of species not on this list, as well as those marked by brackets or asterisks, or with an abundance code of "?". Copies of photographs and/or tape recordings may be sent to the first author, as may written details of sight records. These should include date, time, specific locality, observers' names and addresses, general description of size, shape and color pattern as well as specific field marks used to eliminate similar species, habitat, behavior, light conditions, optical equipment and previous experience of the observers with the species in question and its relatives.

Documenting new or unusual distributional records of birds is only the beginning. Little is known of the habitat, behavior, migration, breeding and ecology of many Neotropical birds. New and significant discoveries await any keen observer with a pair of binoculars and a field guide! We hope this publication will generate new information on the status and distribution of Guyana's birdlife and result in an increased commitment to its preservation.


The assistance of Harold Ameer, John Caesar, Malcolm and Margaret Chan-A-Sue, Philip daSilva, Duane and Sandy deFreitas, Colin Edwards, Laurice Franklin, Vicki Funk, Shirley Humphrys, Carol Kelloff, Diane McTurk, Christopher Milensky, Dyantie Naraine, Louis Orella, Waldyke Prince, Indarjit Ramdass, Nathan Rice, Michael Tamessar and Tony Thorne has been indispensable. Mark Adams, David Agro, Robb Brumfield, Kim Bostwick, H. David. Clarke, James Dean, Christopher Huddleston, Leo Joseph, Gerlof Mees, Naseem Nasir, Javier Piedra, Robert Ridgely, Douglas Stotz, Graham Watkins and Kristof Zyskowski also aided us in many ways. The following organizations provided permission, advice and support: National Biodiversity Advisory Committee of the Environmental Protection Agency, Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, Embassy of the United States of America, Georgetown, Guyana, the Amerindian community of Gunn's Strip, Wilderness Explorers and Iwokrama International Centre for Rain Forest Conservation and Development. This is number 41 in the Smithsonian's Biological Diversity of the Guianas Program publication series.

To the Bird Checklist


American Ornithologists' Union. 1998. Check-list of North American Birds. 7th edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D. C.

Boggan, J., V. Funk, C. Kelloff, M. Hoff, G. Cremers, & C. Feuillet. 1997. Checklist of the Plants of the Guianas, 2nd Edition. Biological Diversity of the Guianas Program, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. 238 pp.

Haverschmidt, François, and G. F. Mees. 1994. Birds of Suriname. VACO, N.V., Paramaribo.

Meyer de Schauensee, R., and W.H. Phelps, Jr. 1978. A Guide to the Birds of Venezuela. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Monroe, B.L., and C.G. Sibley 1993. A World Checklist of Birds. Yale University Press, New Haven.

Parker, T.A., III, R.B. Foster, L.H. Emmons, P. Freed, A.B. Forsyth, B. Hoffman, and B.D. Gill. 1993. A biological assessment of the Kanuku Mountain region of southwestern Guyana. Conservation International, RAP Working Papers 5.

Ridgely, R.S., and G. Tudor. 1989. The Birds of South America, Volume I: The Oscine Passerines. University of Texas Press, Austin.

Ridgely, R.S., and G. Tudor. 1994. The Birds of South America, Volume II: The Suboscine Passerines. University of Texas Press, Austin.

Snyder, D.E. 1966. The Birds of Guyana. Peabody Museum, Salem.

Stotz, D.F., J.W. Fitzpatrick, T.A. Parker III, and D.K. Moskovits. 1996. Neotropical Birds: Ecology and Conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Tostain, Olivier, J.-L. Dujardin, Ch. Érard and J.-M. Thiollay. 1992. Oiseaux de Guyane.Société d'Études Ornithologiques, Brunoy, France.

Traylor, M.A., Jr. (Ed.) 1979. Check-list of the Birds of the World, Volume VIII. Museum of Comparative Zoology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Molecular Systematics and
1,4 Department of Vertebrate Zoology
National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, DC, USA 20560

1643 North Alvernon Way, Suite 105
Tucson, AZ, USA 85712

3 Division of Ornithology, Natural History Museum
University of Kansas
Lawrence, KS, USA, 66045

Preferred Citation: Braun, M.J., D.W. Finch, M.B. Robbins and B.K. Schmidt. 2000. A Field Checklist of the Birds of Guyana. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

To title


Bird Checklist

Vertebrate Species of Guyana Index

Smithsonian Division of Birds

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