NATURAL HISTORY

BLUE-BILLED CURASSOW } Crax alberti
FAMILY: Cracidae

DESCRIPTION: The blue-billed curassow is a large (89-92 centimeters), primarily black bird with a distinctive bill decorated with blue cere and wattles. The male is black with curled black crest feathers, a white vent below its tail, and white on the tip of its tail. Females are black with black and white crest feathers, fine white barring on their wings and tail, and a rust-colored lower belly and undertail.

HABITAT: This species’ habitat consists of humid tropical forests in the lowlands, foothills, and lower mountain slopes of Colombia. It prefers undisturbed, heterogeneous primary forests.

RANGE: The blue-billed curassow is endemic to the mountain valleys of northern Colombia. Although historically the bird was distributed throughout the northern mountainous region, it is currently confined to a few remnant forest patches, including the west slope of the Serranía de San Lucas, Antioquia and the Serranía de las Quinchas, Boyacá.

MIGRATION: Due to its rarity, little is known about the species’ migration habits.

BREEDING: The bird breeds in Colombia’s dry season in the summer and nests between December and March. It has a clutch size of one to two eggs. All cracids are for the most part monogamous and live in pairs.

LIFE CYCLE: Little is known about this bird’s life cycle or life span.

FEEDING: The blue-billed curassow feeds on fruit, plant shoots, and perhaps carrion.

THREATS: The primary threat to this species is deforestation for the purpose of agriculture, livestock farming, illegal drug plantations, oil extraction, and mining. In addition, the species is threatened by hunting and egg collection.

POPULATION TREND: The population estimate for this species is 1,000 to 2,499 birds, with a decreasing trend.

Blue-billed curassow photo © HeathWolfeld