Northern Screamer (Chauna chavaria)

Northern Screamer

[order] ANSERIFORMES | [family] Anhimidae | [latin] Chauna chavaria | [authority] Linnaeus, 1766 | [UK] Northern Screamer | [FR] Kamichi chavaria | [DE] Weisswangen-Wehrvogel | [ES] Chaja Chicaguire | [NL] Witwanghoenderkoet


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Chauna chavaria SA Colombia, Venezuela


The Horned Screamer (Anhima cornuta) is a member of a small family of birds, the Anhimidae, which occurs in wetlands of tropical South America. There are three screamer species, the other two being the Southern Screamer and the Northern Screamer in the genus Chauna.

They are related to the ducks, geese and swans, which are in the family Anatidae, but have bills looking more like those of game birds.

Physical charateristics

Huge and heavy-bodied peculiar goose-like bird. Distinctive head pattern, with grey crown and shaggy crest. Broad white “chinstrap” across throat and sides of face, and black neck. Otherwise dull with grey underparts and dark glossed green upperparts. Sharp spurs on bend of wing. Very large reddish-pink legs, with unwebbed feet. It is one of the loudest birds in the world

Listen to the sound of Northern Screamer

[audio: Screamer.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

recorded by Nick Athanas

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 76 cm size max.: 91 cm
incubation min.: 42 days incubation max.: 44 days
fledging min.: 70 days fledging max.: 80 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 7  


South America : Colombia, Venezuela. Chauna chavaria occurs in north-west Venezuela (around Lago Maracaibo in Zuila, MErida and Trujillo) and north Colombia (from the lower Atrato valley east to the CiEnaga Grande de Santa Marta and the Cesar valley, and south in the middle Magdalena valley to south BolIvar). The upper Cauca valley holds a tiny, isolated and apparently declining population.


This species is restricted to lowland marshes, swamps, lagoons, the banks of slow-flowing rivers and seasonally flooded alluvial plains, often in areas surrounded by forest


Breeding season is year round but mainly 2-7 eggs laid October to November. The nest is a large mass of vegetaion and debris, often a mass of reeds above water. The eggs are incubated for about 6 weeks; the young fledge after another 8-10 weeks. Nest-building ad well as incubation is performed by both parents.

Feeding habits

It is exclusively vegetarian, grazing the green parts of succulent aquatic plants, although digging for unknown food items is regular

Video Northern Screamer


copyright: Frank Witebsky


This species qualifies as Near Threatened because it has a moderately small and declining population.
Loss of habitat owing to drainage of wetlands for cattle and agriculture is probably resulting in slow population declines, but is unlikely to affect seasonally flooded and deeper wetlands in the near future. Collection of eggs, capture as pets and possibly illegal hunting in some areas, are unquantified threats. Construction of a pipeline and road through the wetlands of the Cienaga Grande de Santa Marta and Isla de Salamanca in the mid-1970s obstructed tidal flow and caused extensive mangrove die-back, continuing until at least 1992. In the same area, there is domestic and industrial pollution and sewage, urbanisation and mangrove cutting.
Northern Screamer status Near Threatened


No long-range movements recorded, appear fairly sedentary, although juveniles/non-breeding birds may wander locally

Distribution map

Northern Screamer distribution range map

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