Monday, January 11, 2010

Hoatzin or Stink Bird

The hoatzin, also known as the stink bird is a tropical bird found in the Amazon and Orinico delta in South America.

It is the only member of the genus Opisthocomus, which is ancient Greek meaning, "wearing long hair behind," referring to the crest.

It has an unfeathered blue face with maroon eyes and its head is topped by a spiky rufous crest, reminiscent of a mohawk. It has a long neck and small head.
The chicks have two wing digits with claws. It has an unusual digestive system with an enlarged crop that functions as a rumen which produces a horrible smell that scares away predators.

It is the most enigmatic living bird and there currently is no adequate evolutionary explanation for it. It is the only bird in its family and suborder. We saw a number of hoatzins while we were canoeing around Lake Sandoval in the Peruvian rain forest. They were large, loud and gawky. The one below was sitting on a nest.

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