blue-billed curassow, Crax alberti (4)

photo: NamdurApi

Habitat: found only in Colombia; areas of its range in the south and east are bordered by the Magdalena River
Status: Critically Endangered

This remarkable bird is the Blue-billed Curassow (Crax alberti) that is currently listed on the IUCN Endangered Species List as Critically Endangered. It’s the most threatened cracid species in the world and amongst the most endangered of all birds. Between 1000-2500 individuals remain in their former range. They’re mainly in danger due to habitat loss caused by expansion of agriculture, cattle farming, mining activities, logging operations and human population growth. In addition, this species is prized by hunters and are particularly vulnerable to being caught during breeding season because of the bizarre and unique vocalizations performed by the males, making them easy to locate.

In order to attract a female, the male puffs up its body and creates a low booming noise, almost like a drop of ice being plunked into water. The only video I could find doesn’t have the best sound quality due to lots of background noise. However, if you turn the volume up and put headphones in you can definitely hear the strange noise the Blue-billed Curassow makes.

Conservation efforts are underway in an attempt to save this incredibly rare species. South America’s newest nature reserve, Reserva Natural El Paujil, established in 2004, is located in the Serranía de las Quinchas, the sole surviving block of Magdalena Valley Humid Forest. The reserve, which is named after the local name for this species, El Paujil, is a major refuge for threatened endemic species and is thought to contain the most significant surviving population of the blue-billed curassow (source). Penalties have been introduced here for shooting or trapping species, and ProAves is planning to purchase a further 5,000 ha of forest adjoining the reserve.

A captive  breeding program has been established by Fundación Ecolombia in the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre Los Farallones as well, though so far this has been unsuccessful. Researchers are now looking into artificial insemination to try and preserve a greater number of these birds in captivity. We have to work to save the Blue-billed Curassow if we want to keep the bass down loww!!