Helmeted curassow

Helmeted curassow
Pauxi pauxi

Photo by Greg Hume (World Bird Info)

Common name:
helmeted curassow (en); mutum-de-capacete (pt); hocco à pierre (fr); paují de yelmo (es); helmhokko (de)

Order Galliformes
Family Cracidae

This species is found in western Venezuela and northern Colombia. The subspecies P. p. pauxi is found from the Cordillera de la Costa west to the Cordillera de Mérida, in Venezuela, on the north-eastern slopes of the East Andes in Colombia and adjacent Venezuela, and in three mountain ranges in Falcón, Venezuela. The subspecies P. p. gilliardi is only found in Sierra de Perijá along the Colombian-Venezuelan border.

These birds are 80-100 cm long and weigh 2,5-3,6 kg

The helmeted curassow is only found in sub-tropical cloud forests with dense undergrowth, usually favouring humid gorges an avoiding forest edges. They are present at altitudes of 500-2.200 m.

They forage on the forest floor, taking fallen fruits, seeds, tender leaves, buds, and also small rodents, reptiles and insects.

Helmeted curassows breed in March-May. Males attract females by offering them food held in its beak. The nest is placed in a tree, 5-15 m above the ground, where the female lays 2 cream-coloured eggs. The eggs are incubated for about 30 days. The chicks leave the nest soon after hatching, but are fed by both parents until they learn to pick food from the ground.

IUCN status – EN (Endangered)
This species has a relatively large, but fragmented breeding range. The global population is estimated at 1.000-2.500 individuals, and is suspected to be declining at a moderate rate due to habitat loss and hunting. Deforestation is a problem in both Venezuela and Colombia, mostly for cattle ranching and narcotics cultivation, while hunting for food is probably increasing as infrastructure development makes some areas more accessible. The helmeted curassow’s range is protected by several nature reserves, but this has not averted threats. Captive breeding programmes are underway in Colombia and in the United States.

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