ANIMAL: Blue-Billed Curassow Crax alberti Type of Animal: Gamebird Habitat: Forests, riverine areas Location(s): N Colombia Appearance: Looks like curly-headed turkey. Male black w/ white belly/tail tip, shaggy black crest, blue bulges at bill base, pinkish legs. Female black w/ black & white crest, fine white barring on wings/tail, ruddy/rufous/rusty belly, bluish base to bill, only females have knob, males have more wattling. Both sexes have light gray bills. Blue more prominent in older birds. Food/Diet: Fruit, greens, shoots, seeds, worms, insects, snails, crayfish, carrion Status in Wild: Critically Endangered Conservation: Breeding in zoos & wildlife centers. El Paujil Reserve established in 2004 to protect this bird. These birds locally called “El Paujil.” Lifestyle: Male-female pairs Additional Info: Called: Male: Cock Female: Hen Young: Chick Group: Pair Weight: Male: 8 lbs Female: 7 lbs Young: 4 lbs Gestation: 1 month Life Span: 20 years Height: Male: 3 ft Female: 2.67 ft Body Length: Male: 3 ft Female: 2.67 ft Tail Length: 1.5 ft, same for both sexes Main predators are crocodilians, felids, bears, anacondas, boa constrictors, & eagles. Critically endangered due to deforestation, habitat loss, collection for wildlife trade, hunting for meat/eggs, herbicide spraying to combat illegal drug crops, drug plantations, agriculture, mining, & oil exploration. Males highly territorial, w/ fights sometimes resulting in death. Females lay 1-3 eggs per clutch (usually once but occasionally twice a year). Chick(s) stay w/ parents for up to a year. Sexually mature at 2 years old. Primarily terrestrial. There are less than 700 of these birds in wild. In order to attract females, males puff up body, hunch over, & make low booming sound. Boom also used to mark territory & maintain pair bond. Also called Blue-Knobbed Curassow, Prince Albert’s Curassow, & El Paujil (Spanish/local name for Curassow). These birds will fly into trees for shelter but run more often than fly when threatened. Males courtship feed females items from beak. Fun Fact(s): Hatch w/ flight feathers & can fly the day of hatching. Folktales say crest feathers derive from when fire stolen from jaguars & given to humanity. As birds carried burning logs on back, flames burnt crest feathers into crisp curls. Very curious birds. Many individuals rather friendly towards people though hand-raised imprinted males can be aggressive towards people as well as towards females. Important symbol in ancient Pre-Colombian indigenous cultures, w/ many gold figures depicting these birds. They can panic easily & are rather skittish in wild.
Blue-Billed Curassow, male, Brookfield Zoo, taken by me