Blue-Billed Curassow

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

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