What does the curassow-piurí feed on?

By Clara Machado

The wattled curassow (Crax globulosa) is a bird well known by people living along some rivers of the Amazon, where this species inhabits the flooded várzea forests. Like other birds in  this family, the wattled curassow is very sensitive to hunting and deforestation, and natural populations have suffered such great losses in recent years that the species has been placed on both the Brazilian and IUCN Red Lists as “Endangered”. In order to outline conservation and management strategies for such species, it is essential to better understand its diet and other important requirements but, although it is a well-known bird, there are few studies on its habits or ecology. With this in mind, the study by Gabriel Leite, published in Ornithology Research and titled “Diet of the Wattled Curassow (Crax globulosa) on the Juruá River, Brazilian Amazonia”, sought to better understand what the wattled curassow feeds on. For this, three individuals were monitored in the forest, the stomach contents of hunted curassows were analyzed, and residents of different communities from the Uacari Sustainable Development Reserve were interviewed.

Researcher Gabriel Leite holding a wattled curassow

Unlike other birds in the family, the wattled curassow does not usually seek food on the forest floor, preferring to feed when it is perched in the trees. In the high-water season, when many trees bear fruit in abundance, is when the wattled curassow feeds up on fruits and seeds, their main source of food. But in addition, the bird also eats leaves, flowers and some invertebrates. They can forage in groups of up to eight birds, but groups of three are the most common. Gabriel found 51 different species of plants that serve as food for the wattled curassow – the most recurring ones were ‘mata-matá’ and ‘castanhola’, from the same botanical family (Lecythidaceae). The interviewed residents, in addition to confirming species already found in the research observations, added four plants to the list, based on their experiences sighting the animal in the forest. The wattled curassow feeds on a great diversity of plants, as well as some invertebrates, but it also has its particular preferences and habits and, knowing this basic information about its natural history, we take an important step towards its conservation.

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