Online Encyclopedia

CURASSOW (Cracinae)

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V07, Page 636 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CURASSOW (Cracinae), a group of gallinaceous birds forming one of the subfamilies of Cracidae, the species of which are among the largest and most splendid of the game birds of South America, where they may be said to represent the pheasants of the Old World. They are large, heavy birds, many of them rivalling the turkey in size, with short wings, long and broad tail, and strong bill. In common with the family to which they belong, they have the hind toe of the foot placed on a level with the others, thus resembling the pigeons, and unlike the majority of gallinaceous birds. With the exception of a single species found north of Panama, the curassows are confined to the tropical forests of South America, .east of the Andes, and not extending south of Paraguay. They live in small flocks, and are arboreal in their habits, only occasionally descending to the CURATOR ground, while always roosting and building their nests on the branches of trees. Their nests are neat structures, made of slender branches interlaced with stems of grass, and lined internally with leaves. They feed on fruits, seeds and insects. They are often tamed in several parts of South America, but have never been thoroughly domesticated anywhere. Large numbers of these birds were, according to K. J. Temminck, brought to Holland from Dutch Guiana towards the end of the 18th century, and got so completely acclimatized and domesticated as to breed in confinement like ordinary poultry; but the establishments in which these were kept were broken up during the troubles that followed on the French Revolution. Their flesh is said to be exceedingly white and delicate, and this, together with their size and the beauty of their plumage, would make the curassows an important gain to the poultry yards of Europe, if they were not such bad breeders. The subfamily of curassows contains four genera and twelve species, all confined to South America, with the exception of Crax globicera—a Central American species, which extends northward into Mexico. This bird is about 3 ft. in length, of a glossy black colour over the whole body, excepting the abdomen and tail coverts, which are white. In common with the other species of this genus its head bears a crest of feathers curled forward at the tips, which can be raised or depressed at will. The female is of a reddish-brown colour, although varying greatly in this respect, and was formerly .described as a separate species—the red curassow. In another species, Crax incommode, the greater part of the black plumage is beautifully varied with narrow transverse bars of white. The galeated curassow (Pauxi galeata) is peculiar in having a large blue tubercle, hard and stony externally, but cellular within, and resembling a hen's egg in size and shape, situated at the base of the hill. It only appears after the first moulting, and is much larger in the male than in the female.
End of Article: CURASSOW (Cracinae)
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CURACAO, or CURACOA
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