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Nocturnal Curassow Nothocrax urumutum


Arguably regarded as one of the most mythical and exciting of all Neotropical birds, this unusual, largely chestnut-brown cracid, which merits its own genus, is further remarkable for being the smallest curassow. Despite its name the species does not appear to be strictly nocturnal. Nevertheless, it does seem that the males have a striking propensity to sing at night, especially when the moon is new or very young, usually from a branch in the subcanopy. Pairs often perch in close proximity. However, contrary to long-held belief, it seems that the birds descend to the ground at daybreak and feed for several hours, and they also forage again for a period prior to dusk. The Nocturnal Curassow is found over a reasonably large area of western and northern Amazonia, largely constrained by the Amazon and the Rio Negro, although it has been speculated that the species will yet be recorded even farther east, but this takes nothing away from an encounter with this amazing bird, especially remembering that scarcely 40 years ago it was thought that no ornithologist had ever seen the species during the day.

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© Gregory Budney

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Nocturnal Curassow (Nothocrax urumutum), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: