Blue-Billed Curassow

Blue-Billed Curassow Crax alberti

Type of Animal:

Forests, riverine areas

N Colombia

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.

Fruit, greens, shoots, seeds, worms, insects, snails, crayfish, carrion

Status in Wild:
Critically Endangered

Breeding in zoos & wildlife centers. El Paujil Reserve established in 2004 to protect this bird. These birds locally called “El Paujil.”

Male-female pairs

Additional Info:

Male: Cock
Female: Hen
Young: Chick
Group: Pair

Male: 8 lbs
Female: 7 lbs
Young: 4 lbs

1 month

Life Span:
20 years

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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