Wattled Curassow

(Crax globulosa)

FUN FACT

The calls of the male Wattled Curassow include a long, low-pitched boom, and a high, descending whistle that sounds like a firecracker falling through the air.

There are many beautiful birds throughout the National Aviary -- the bright Rainbow Lorikeets, the sparkling Fairy Bluebirds, the powder-puff-pink Flamingos -- but only the Wattled Curassows look like they just spent hours getting ready to attend a formal dance.

Both male and female Curassows are a rich, glossy black, with deep brown eyes and an elegant crown of curls atop their heads.  Males develop a bright red ornamental knob on their black bills; females display a more tasteful splash of crimson at their bill's base.  Long, sprightly tail feathers bob as these birds strut about, showing off an underlayer of feathering (which for the male, rusty buff for the female) that extends partway down their legs like a set of old-fashioned pantaloons.  All they need is a gold watch chain and a set of diamonD earrings to look ready for a night on the town.

The Wattled Curassow is native to the rainforests of South America, where its range includes parts of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.  While once considered common, very little is known about them in the wild.  Wattled Curassows are usually found in areas of forest prone to seasonal flooding, leading researchers to believe that such regular swamping is crucial to their habitat.  It's assumed they have a diet much like other gallinaceous birds (seeds, fallen fruit, insects and small fish), but their actual diet in the wild is unknown.  Wattled Curassows seem to spend more time walking along branches high up in the trees than other curassows, which makes it difficult to observe them in the wild.

 

Even so, comparing older records with more modern information reveals that Wattled Curassows are much more scarce in the wild than they were 100 years ago.  Hunting and habitat destruction place a huge stress on these birds in the wild; locals hunt them for meat, just as we hunt turkeys, as well as for the snowy white vent feathers on the males.  In 2010 the Wattled Curassow was officially listed as an Endangered Species.

Distribution

Formerly widespread throughout upper Amazonia, but reduced now to somewhere around 10,000 individuals in small, scattered populations in Brazil, Bolivia, and Peru.

Habitat

Uncertain, but probably along gallery forests near rivers and streams.

Diet

Diet in the wild is not well-known, but likely plant matter with insects, small fish, and some small mammals.

Breeding

Breeding season in the wild is unknown. Based on the behavior of other curassows (as well as observations of captive birds), Wattled Curassows tend to be monogamous and remain with the same mate for years, possibly for life. A crude, flat cup of twigs is built for a clutch of one or two eggs, which the female incubates for about 30 days. Chicks are fairly precocial; captive chicks are often seen scrambling up the sides of trees to roost on their very first night.

Status

Endangered

At the Aviary

See Joanie" the Wattled Curassow in our Wetlands exhibit.