species birds south
CURA.SSOW (Cracince), a group of gallinaceous birds forming one of the sub-families of Cracicice, 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 and grouse 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 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 said to be domesticated in several parts of South America, and Bates states that when journeying up the Amazon he was amused "at the excessive and almost absurd tameness of a fine curassow turkey (3litua tuberosa)," which ran about one of the planter's houses in which he happened to stay. Large numbers of these birds were, according to Temminck, brought to Holland from Dutch Guiana towards the end of last 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, should they yet be successfully reared. The sub-family of curassows contains four genera and twelve species, all confined to South America, with the exception of Crux globicera - a Central American species, which extends northward into Mexico. This bird is about 3 feet in length, of a glossy black colour, with green and purple reflections 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 colour, although varying greatly in this respect, and was until lately described as a separate species - the Red Curassow. In another species, Crax incommocla, 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 bill. It only appears after the first moulting, and is much larger in the male than in the female.