Blue-Billed Curassow

Crax alberti
Only 250-1,000 blue-billed curassows remain in the wild due to severe habitat destruction and degradation.
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Blue-Billed Curassow

Male Blue-billed curassows have a slightly swollen cere (a waxy fleshy covering at the base of the upper beak) and wattles that are a bright blue. The plumage is black with a white abdomen. The female also has a blue cere, which is not as swollen in appearance, and her plumage is black with narrow white barring on the feathers, and the abdomen is rufous or rust-colored. Both sexes have a head crest of curled feathers that will stand up during displays of courtship, excitement, or agitation. Females incubate two eggs for up to 32 days while the male guards the area surrounding the nest; both parents take part in the raising of the chicks once hatched.

Their main diet in the wild consists of items they can acquire on or near the ground since their main feeding habits are terrestrial. Blue-bills are one of the ‘booming curassows.’ Males have been observed hunched over, somewhat puffed out, and with bill closed, booming, or growling in an undertone. Typical booming by curassows seems to be a song in the usual sense, given by a male in the territory and probably delivered from a few favorite perches. It may serve to warn away rival males, to attract a mate, or to help maintain a pair bond. In areas where more than one species of curassow with a booming song live together or where the ranges of two such species meet (for example, the greater and the blue-billed curassows), differences in the pattern of the song may act as an ‘isolating mechanism’ that prevents or helps to prevent hybridization of two species. In general, curassows sing morning and evening and sometimes on moonlit nights. Some may continue to sing well past dawn or at intervals throughout the day.

Blue-billed curassows are found in the tropical zone of northern Colombia. Their habitat consists of the north coast of Columbia’s humid lowlands, most commonly below 2000 ft altitude. They are about the size of a wild turkey, weighing approximately 7 – 8 lbs. They feed primarily on fruit and greens. Once called the Prince Albert’s curassow, the blue-billed curassow is a more descriptive name for this bird.

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