Southern Screamer (Chauna torquata)

Southern Screamer

[order] ANSERIFORMES | [family] Anhimidae | [latin] Chauna torquata | [authority] Oken, 1816 | [UK] Southern Screamer | [FR] Kamichi a collier | [DE] Halsband-Wehrvogel | [ES] Chaja Comun (Arg, Uy, Bo), Tapacare (Bo), Chaha(Py) | [NL] Kuifhoenderkoet | [copyright picture] Claudio Diaz Timm


Monotypic species


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

Sexes similar. Large bodied, with stout tarsi and toes, and a relatively short, “chicken-like” bill. Rear crown has a crest, usually recumbent, of elongated, pointed feathers. Head and upperparts gray. Remiges and rectrices fuscous. Collar, composed of feathers with a velvety texture, around base of neck black; usually there is a faint white neck ring above the black. Foreneck, breast and sides pale gray, with indistinct white mottling and streaking; belly less marked, almost uniform pale gray or white. Underwing coverts white. Manus has two sharp, spike-like spurs, the more proximal of which is the longer of the two.

Listen to the sound of Southern Screamer

[audio: Screamer.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

recorded by Sjoerd Mayer

wingspan min.: 165 cm wingspan max.: 175 cm
size min.: 83 cm size max.: 95 cm
incubation min.: 43 days incubation max.: 46 days
fledging min.: 56 days fledging max.: 70 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 7  


South America : Central, South. The Southern Screamer occurs from Bolivia south to northern Argentina, and east to Mato Grosso and Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Vagrant to southeastern Peru


This species lives in tropical and subtropical wetlands, such as lakes, marshes, and flooded fields and meadows, usually with scattered trees.


Southern Screamers form pair bonds that lasts several years and sometimes their whole life. During the courtship display there is mutual preening and dueting. The head will also is thrown back so it touches the birds? back. It builds a large stick and reed nest on the ground near shallow water and lay between 2-7 eggs, but 3-5 is the most common. Incubation can range from 43-46 days,the chicks hatch with a thick gray-yellow down and fledge after 8 to 10 weeks. They are completely independent between 12 to 14 weeks. Both the male and the female incubate the eggs and once they hatch, both parents watch over them. The young are nidifugous; they are only brooded for the first few days. The young are very good swimmers Southern Screamers will keep their breeding territory. Eggs generally are laid in October and November.

Feeding habits

Southern Screamers are social during the nonbreeding season; they forage in flocks of up to 100 individuals. They mostly graze vegetation but very rarely dig for food. diet consists of aquatic plants, seeds, leaves, stems, and some crops. They graze in a similar fashion to the ducks and geese .

Video Southern Screamer


copyright: Josep del Hoyo


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Southern Screamer status Least Concern


The species is thought to be non-migratory. In Rio Grande do Sul, however, ground and aerial surveys showed seasonal fluctuations in numbers, with populations in coastal areas decreasing at times of year (July-November) when numbers were highest at inland locations, suggesting local movements

Distribution map

Southern Screamer distribution range map

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