The Great Curassow: Characteristics And Mechanisms Of Adaptation

The great curassow is a borderline bird because there are important physical differences between male and female.
The great curassow: characteristics and mechanisms of adaptation

This is a very beautiful bird that is in danger of extinction. Next, we will see the characteristics and adaptation mechanisms of the great curassow, a species affected by poaching, but with great chances of survival.

Characteristics of the great curassow

In this species, the male and female have different colors and sizes. The male is black with greenish tones and white belly, erectile crest and yellow bulge in the jaw.

The female has reddish-brown feathers with black stripes, the neck is black and white, has no protrusion, and the top is white. Due to this characteristic, it is identified as a borderline bird.

The great curassow does not exceed 91 centimeters in height and weighs on average 3.57 kilograms. The tail measures between 29 and 38 centimeters, has four long toes on the paws and a slightly curved, short and robust beak. It is considered a herbivorous species that feeds on fruits and seeds, insects, lizards and small rodents.


The breeding season  starts in February and March. Courtship begins with the male’s vocalizations, who offer the female food. It then builds the nest in large trees: the male uses the hollow stems and branches that are just above the ground.

These birds reproduce through eggs, usually two, which the mother incubates for 30 days. The second chick will be born a day after the first and will leave the nest as soon as the shell breaks. Then the parents will take care of both.

Great curassow reproduction

The chicks want to get out of the nest quickly. Before long, they are taking little leaps after their mother when they go out to find food. Soon they will be able to feed. They do this on bushes, grass or branches.

shy and aggressive

This is usually a shy bird, although in hot weather it becomes aggressive. It usually chooses not to defend itself, but when attacked it flees and joins the other birds.

It is a bird with diurnal, arboreal and terrestrial habits. The curassow doesn’t like to fly, so it stays in the trees, where it moves by jumping and walking. He just goes down to the ground to collect seeds, fruits and drink water.

A bird from rainforests

The great curassow, whose scientific name is  Crax rubra , is a bird of the Cracidae family   and of the order galliforme.  He lives in extensive areas of rainforests, from Tamaulipas to the Yucatan Peninsula, including the island of Cozumel, Mexico. It can also be seen in Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Ecuador.

It is known as paují, American or royal pheasant. Other names are guaco, chonco, hoco, kanbull, tepetotol and tutule. In pre-Hispanic times, it was linked to fertility, corn and water.

A bird from rainforests

Poaching and risk of extinction of the great curassow

The appetizing meat and beauty of the curassow’s feathers cause excessive hunting that puts them at risk of extinction. Today, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature considers this bird an endangered species, and its consumption is prohibited.

An example of its current situation is on the island of Cozumel. There are only about 200 copies. This is a defenseless species in the face of marine storms.

Adaptation mechanisms of the great curassow

In parallel, there are actions promoted for its preservation through the Management Units for Wildlife Conservation (UMA). These actions aim at the conservation of natural habitat, populations and wild specimens in captivity.

Curassows usually move in groups of up to 12 birds, although at some point you may see specimens traveling alone. It can live peacefully being cared for by man in captivity, or fearful of turning to mammal food in the wild. Its main predators are ocelots and hawks.

Required actions

To avoid their extinction, it is recommended not to cut down the trees where they can build their nests. It is also necessary to protect the specimens that still exist in captivity so that they can reproduce; reporting poaching is another action that can be taken.

If we learn about the characteristics and adaptation mechanisms of the great curassow, we will know how to prevent it from becoming extinct. Thus, this beautiful species will be able to continue to populate the forests of North, Central and South America.

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