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Crax rubra

Great Curassow

  • Order: Galliformes
  • Family: Cracidae

Authors: Atkinson, Jon, C. Rodríguez-Flores, C. Soberanes-González, and M.C. Arizmendi

Crax rubra

La Selva Biological Station, Heredia, Costa Rica; 10 February 2010 © Scott Olmstead

The Great Curassow is a physically large Cracid that ranges from Mexico south to Ecuador. It is a secretive species found in humid tropical forests that feeds mostly on fruits but also eats small invertebrates as well as vertebrates. Males are black with white under parts, a shaggy crest and a bright yellow spherical knob on the bill. Females are polymorphic, usually either barred (rare), rufous, or blackish. The Great Curassow have varying calls that range from low frequency booms to high-pitched yips. The species is declining due to habitat loss and overhunting, but it still can be seen stealing across the forest floor or feeding in the upper levels of the tree canopy.

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Recommended Citation

Atkinson, Jon, C. Rodríguez-Flores, C. Soberanes-González, and M.C. Arizmendi. 2012. Great Curassow (Crax rubra), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:

This map is based on the maps available from the NatureServe InfoNatura website. The data for these maps are provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE.

  • Migration/Movement:Resident (nonmigratory)
  • Primary Habitat:Tropical lowland evergreen forest edge
  • Foraging Strata:Understory/Canopy
  • Foraging Behavior:Glean
  • Diet:Omnivorous
  • Sociality:Pairs/Family Groups
  • Mating System:Monogamy
  • Nest Form:Platform
  • Clutch: 1 - 2
  • IUCN Status:Vulnerable