The Horrible Hoatzin

One of the most unusual birds, this interesting animal is one bird that no one wants to keep in a cage. In fact, the Hoatzin just doesn’t have many friends.

Considered to be a hold over from the days of the dinosaur, they are the only still existing part of a family of birds that are called Opisthocomidae. All of their relatives most likely died out a long time past.

The Hoatzin weight about 2 pounds, and is about 2 feet long, sometimes a bit more.

They have an almost entirely bare head, with a crest on top of it that is red, and blue skin around the red eyes.

The Foul Smelling Hoatzin
The Foul Smelling Hoatzin

On the back of the neck they are green striped and the throat and breast of the Hoatzin is white.They have black tail feathers and chestnut colored feathers over the rest of their bodies.

The Hoatzin is a rainforest bird, and lives in the lowland areas in the Amazon basin. They love slow moving or swampy standing water, and the floods or small lakes that are made when the river changes its path is the ideal habitat for this bird.

The Hoatzin makes its nest in low branches in trees that hang out over the water to avoid the predatory birds that might make a meal of their offspring. They live in groups, so the Hoatzin will have as many as 25 or 30 nests in one single tree.

The Hoatzin feeds on marsh plants and leaves, which ground up in their crop, an organ that the bird uses as a stomach. When it has been ingested, the plant materials are fermented which gives the bird a fairly foul odor.

The baby Hoatzin has a claw that grows on the end of his wing that helps him to climb back up into the nest when they fall to ground. This is the residual feature of another bird of the Hoatzins long died out family, the Archaeopteryx, who hasn’t lived on earth for about the last hundred million years.

The Hoatzin does communicate, and make strange sounds that sound like grunts, growls or wheezes. They also hiss at each other.

The female Hoatzin will lay either two or three eggs, in a nest that is built of small twigs, and hangs out over the water from a tree branch.

The two parents will both take turns keeping the eggs warm. After about twenty eight days they will hatch.

The young Hoatzin will be fed by the parents the plant material that the parents regurgitate. The Hoatzin are such a smelly bird that they are not often hunted by the local tribes, or even other animals, since no one really cares for them.


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