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Alagoas Curassow Mitu mitu

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The virtually unchecked devastation of the northeast Brazilian Atlantic Forest has left several species perilously close to extinction, while one, particularly vulnerable to such events, has already been lost, at least in the wild. First reported in the mid-17th century, then ‘lost’ until 1951, the Alagoas Curassow was last seen reliably in 1984, although there was a further, unconfirmed report, in 1987. Confined to lowland forests in the states of Pernambuco and Alagoas, the species was already desperately rare by the 1960s, and ongoing deforestation and hunting rapidly hastened its decline thereafter. Fortunately for this curassow’s prospects, a concerned private collector established a captive population in the late 1970s and, through successful breeding, numbered more than 40 individuals by the start of the new millennium. Despite this success, the problem persists of where a reintroduction scheme might be mounted, given that the species requires reasonably large areas of forest, its range apparently never encompassed the highlands, and forest destruction in the lowlands of this region has been near-total. The Alagoas Curassow is a large, all-black bird, glossed purplish blue, with chestnut at the base of the tibia, on the vent and undertail coverts, a brown-tipped tail, and has a small patch of grayish-white skin on the ear coverts. It most closely resembles its Amazonian counterpart, the Razor-billed Curassow (Mitu tuberosum), with which it was often considered conspecific in the past, but the present species’ bill is less massive and is distinctly two-toned. At least in captivity, the species lays 2–3 eggs.

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Recommended Citation

Alagoas Curassow (Mitu mitu), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: