Hoatzin Facts

Hoatzin Facts
Hoatzin is a turkey-like bird that cannot be easily classified due to many specific features. Hoatzin looks like a bird related to cuckoos, pheasants and ancient prehistoric birds, but at the end it still has unique characteristics which are the reason why it is allocated to a separate family called Opisthocomidae. Hoatzin can be found only in South America, ranging from Guyana and Ecuador, to Brazil, Bolivia and Orinoco, near the oxbow lakes in the Amazon jungle.
Interesting Hoatzin Facts:
Hoatzin can reach 25 inches in length and 1.78 pounds of weight.
Hoatzin has a long neck, small head with reddish-brown crest, and blue facial skin with red eyes. Its body is covered with dark and light brown feathers combined with white and yellow feathers.
Hoatzin has a long tail composed of ten, loosely attached feathers.
Hoatzin is a clumsy bird. It spends most of the time near the water and on the branches of the surrounding trees.
Although hoatzin has completely developed wings, it rarely flies. Unlike other flying birds, its pectoral muscles (muscles on the chest) are poorly developed. One of the reasons is that its crop (part of the digestive system) is overly developed and takes more place than in other birds.
Hoatzins are one of the rare birds that are exclusively herbivores. They eat different kind of green plants such as leaves of arum, legume trees and other succulent plants. Hoatzin spends 4 hours a day in eating. It eats in the early morning and late evening hours.
Due to specific type of diet, hoatzin digests its food with a help of bacteria in its crop. Similar process takes place in the stomach of the ruminants.
Food fermentation produces unique and unpleasant smell (a manure-like smell), which is why hoatzin is also known as "stinkbird" or "stinking pheasant". Amazonian people avoid hunting and eating hoatzin because of its smell.
Unique feature, characteristic for both the hoatzin and the prehistoric dinosaur called Archaeopteryx (which was a blend between lizards and birds) are claws at the end of wings. Hoatzin uses its claws to climb the trees. Further examination showed that hoatzin is not a modern version of the Archaeopteryx; it developed claws because of the specific life style. Claws prevent hoatzin to fall into the water while climbing the nearby vegetation.
Hawks and other large birds hunt hoatzin. They are especially interested in the young animals, which are located in the nests on the trees above the water. If the young hoatzin falls from the nest, it will swim until it reaches the safety of the ground and the tree (and escape the predators).
Hoatzins live in groups (colonies) composed of 10 to 50 birds.
Mating season takes place during tropical rainy season. Males and females build nests together using the branches and sticks. Nests are usually 5 to 21 feet long, located on the trees.
Female lays between two and five eggs. They are yellowish to creamy white in color and have blue or violet spots.
All birds in the colony participate in the rising of the young birds.
Average lifespan of the hoatzin is 15 years in the wild and up to 30 years in captivity.

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