Bird of the Week: Blue-billed Curassow

 

The Blue-billed Curassow is one of the most endangered birds in the Americas. The species is a member of the Cracid genus, a group of large, ground-dwelling birds of tropical habitats that are closely related to turkeys and taste just as good to local people, who hunt them and take their eggs for food.

 

Blue-billed Curassow populations have also declined dramatically due to habitat loss in the Magdalena Valley, where most of the species’ population lives. Huge areas of lowland forest have been razed to create clearings for livestock and crops, illegal coca farms, oil extraction, and mining.

 

 

Although the species has been seen infrequently at other sites in Colombia, the Alliance for Zero Extinction has recognized the Serrania de las Quinchas as the portion of the Magdalena Valley most critical for the continued survival of the curassow, because it appears to be home to the species’ last viable population.

 

The Blue-billed Curassow spends most of its time on the forest floor, where it forages for fruit, seeds, and small invertebrates. It roosts in trees; these roost sites are usually near feeding areas, and are often used for several consecutive days.

 

Ensuring survival of the species is an ABC priority. In 2004, ABC and Colombian partner Fundación ProAves established the El Paujíl Reserve in the Magdalena Valley to protect the curassow. In 2010, the reserve was expanded and now protects over 14,830 acres of lowland forest for this and other endangered residents such as White-mantled Barbet, plus wintering migrants such as the Cerulean Warbler and Canada Warbler.

 

Blue-billed Curassows have become habituated to visiting a feeding station at the reserve, making it easier to see this usually-skittish species than ever before.

 

ABC and ProAves continue work on habitat protection and restoration, as well as educational outreach, job-training programs for local women, and tourism.

 

Visitors are encouraged to visit this lowland rainforest with its incredible bird list of over 350 species. Learn more on our Conservation Birding website.