Wednesday, October 6, 2010



The hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin) is also known as the stinkbird, hoactzin or the canje pheasant.
It gets the name stinkbird because of the smell that comes from it due to daily consumption of leaves.  It is the only member of the genus Opisthocomus which means wearing  long hair behind in ancient Greek.  It is given this name as it has a crest on the back of its neck.

Physical Features                                                   Close up of a hoatzin's head

The hoatzin grows about 65 cm in length.   It has a face with no feathers and has maroon eyes.  On the top of its head there is a spiky crest which makes it different from other birds.  It has a small head and a long body.  It is a very noisy bird, having discordant noises like hissing, croaking, groaning and grunting.  They make these noises to contact with other individuals or groups and to warn off intruders. 

The hoatzin's staple food is leaves.  It also eats fruits and flowers from its marshy habitat occasionally.  When it  looks for food, it is often seen scrambling around awkwardly and being quite tame.  People once  thought that the hoatzin eats leaves only from mangroves and arums.  Later, zoologists found out that this bird consumes leaves from more than 50 species of trees.  It has a leathery bump on the bottom of its crop to keep balance while going from branch to branch to look for food.  After one experiment in Venezuela, the zoologists found out that an hoatzin's diet includes 82% leaves, 10% flowers and 8% fruits.

Hoatzin's live in colonies.  They breed during the rainy season.  They lay 2 to 3 eggs in a nest, which is made on trees and some are made hanging above water in seasonal flooded forests.  The chicks have a very awkward feature: they are born with claws on their wings.  They have this feature to avoid predation.  When a predator arrives, the chick will fall inside the water.  They use the claws to to climb up the nest again. 

The hoatzin is found in the amazon.  They are found in the amazon's mangrove forests too.  Their range included Venezuela, Peru and Brazil.

Source of picture 1:
Source of picture 2: 

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