Wattled Curassow

The Wattled Curassow (Crax globulosa) - known locally as piuri - is one of the larger birds found in the Amazon Rainforest, similar in size to the domestic peacock.

They were once abundant in the jungle around Iquitos, especially on the islands to be found in the Amazon River. Older locals say that flocks of Wattled Curassow used to come to their villages, to forage for fruits, leaves and small insects in their fields of crops, unfazed by human activity around them.

Unfortunately for the birds, they are both good to eat and easy to hunt - the males’ loud call is used to attract females, but also makes them simple to locate. And as the human population of the area increased, so the numbers of Wattled Curassow declined. By the 1970s, the species had almost been hunted to extinction.

It is over 40 years since they have been sighted in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, but they can still be observed in tops of trees over 50m (160ft) high - species such as Capinuri, Oges, Capirona, Tamara and Kapok - along the Yanayacu River.

There is now a concerted conservation effort in this region, led by Muyuna Amazon Lodge and Curassow Lodge, to boost Wattled Curassow populations. The females only lay one or two eggs a year, though, so this will be a long process and they remain an endangered species. Nonetheless, these two lodges are the best places to go to see piuris in the wild.

The species is still little-studied, but here are a few Wattled Curassow facts:

  • They grow to the size of a turkey.

  • They have black plumage. Male adults are characterised by a red crest on the head.

  • Couples are loyal, often staying together for life.

  • They can live to over 20 years of age.

  • They spend much of their time in the rainforest canopy.

  • They whistle when spreading their wings.