7th of February – Species Spotlight – Bare Faced Curassow

This weeks Spotlight falls upon one of our larger birds in the park
Bare Faced Curassow
Crax fasciolata
 Bare Faced Curassow 1 Small 150x150 - 7th of February - Species Spotlight - Bare Faced Curassow
Found in the wild in Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and northern Argentina
They feed on fruit, roots, buds and leaves.
Curassows are a large close relative of the pheasant and although they look as if they are designed to spend their time on the ground, they actually spend much of their time in trees, walking along perches. This has probably evolved from their habitat, living in rainforests where there are many potential threats.
Adults are heavy birds (male Great Curassows can reach 4.3kg) so although they can fly, they tend to move from tree to tree or glide across forest clearings with their broad wings.
Males and females are distinguished by their colouration. Males tend to be black with white patches by the legs. Females have black and white barring, potentially to help them blend in when sitting on nests. Both sexes have crests. Males are also more vocal, with a variety of calls including trills, whistles and a deep booming call.
Bare Faced Curassow 9 Small 150x150 - 7th of February - Species Spotlight - Bare Faced CurassowMale
Bare Faced Currasow 4 Small 150x150 - 7th of February - Species Spotlight - Bare Faced CurassowFemale
A simple twig nest is constructed in vegetation or in a tree, with a few leaves also placed around the nest. Two white eggs are produced and incubated by both parent for approximately 30 days. Unlike many members of the pheasant family, the young are fed by the adults to start. Chicks leave the nest soon after hatching to hide in the surrounding vegetation. The chicks are also armed with wing quills from hatch which will allow them to get up into the trees if a predator is around. The family group remains together for some time, with the male leading them around the forest.
Unfortunately Curassows breed slowly, only raising small broods every year. Many species are endangered as deforestation continues apace. They are also hunted by the local population for food.
We currently keep a pair of Bare Faced in the netted aviaries beside the trout pond. Our male is 13 years of age and originated from Chessington World of Adventure. The female joined us in 2009 from Exmoor Zoo.
In 2011 we had 2 eggs from the pair which were laid in a large nest platform hidden behind a large shrub. The eggs proved infertile. In 2012 & 13 the birds were seen displaying, mating, nest building and sitting but no eggs were laid. This year we are keeping them in the same aviary but by themselves, having previously had Turacos in the same enclosure and last year, The Lady Ross’ spent a lot of time by the nest.
The birds stay out for much of the year, only going away at night from November to February in the aviary shed. There is the option of heat but in previous enclosures they have gone without.
The diet we give is made up of corn, pheasant pellet, flaked maize, seeds and nuts, chopped fruit and a small amount of insectivorous mix. Live food is also occasionally provided and there is grass and plants attracting insects to pick at in the aviary.
Lets hope we have some success this year
There is no weekly news this week as I am at Center Parcs, no doubt feeding the swans, doing a bit of bird watching and maybe some falconry. We’ll update you fully next week

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