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The Wattled curassow’s range consists of Upper Amazonia from southeastern Columbia south along the eastern foothills of the Andes through Ecuador and Peru to northeastern Bolivia. They inhabit somewhat dry areas in the tropical Amazonian forest, staying away from swampy places. Curassows, in general, are about the size of a wild turkey, averaging 7 – 8 lbs. Their diet consists of fruits and greens. Their diet at White Oak is similar, with chopped fruit, greens, and seeds.
Wattled curassows get their name from the bright scarlet knobs and wattles on their bills. The knobs are more prominent in males than in females. Both have glossy black plumage, with the male’s abdomen being white, and the female’s rufous or rust-colored. Both have a crest of curly feathers on the top of their head. The crest on the female is shorter. It is used in moments of nervousness, aggression, or inquisitiveness and its use is very expressive. Unlike other curassows, it may not descend to the ground as frequently, opting to move along horizontal limbs, making observations of this bird difficult in the wild.
As with other curassows, Wattled curassows tend to be monogamous. After mating, the females lay two eggs, and after an average 32-day incubation, the chicks hatch. Able to move about soon after hatching, the chicks have been observed climbing up a slanted fence rail to roost on their first night. Wattled curassows are one of only two species of ‘whistling curassows,’ the other being the Yellow-knobbed curassow. Both lack the ‘booming’ song heard in other curassows. The song is completely different – a long leisurely whistle. Males have been observed uttering these long whistles, opening the beak widely to do so. The song may be used as a note of annoyance or alarm, as well as during courtship. In the case of courtship, the male may seek to attract and hold a mate and warn off rival males.