It might look like a curly-headed turkey, but it’s a rare one. Only 250 to 500 birds now exist, primarily in a single site in Colombia.

Blue-billed Curassow map, NatureServeThe Blue-billed Curassow is one of the birds closest to extinction in the Americas. It belongs to a group of large, ground-dwelling tropical birds that are closely related to turkeys. Some say the birds are just as tasty as domestic turkeys, and unfortunately, harvesting the birds and eggs for food is an ongoing problem.

Declining as Forests Disappear

Blue-billed Curassow populations have also declined dramatically due to habitat loss. Huge areas of lowland forest in the bird's former range have been razed for livestock and crops, illegal coca farms, oil extraction, and mining. Although the species has been seen infrequently at other sites in Colombia, the Alliance for Zero Extinction has recognized a small portion of the Magdalena Valley as most critical for the curassow's survival. This appears to be home to one of the last viable populations for the species.

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Growing Hope at El Paujíl

That site is now a protected area: ABC and Colombian partner Fundación ProAves established the El Paujíl Reserve in 2004 and then expanded the reserve in 2010. The area now protects nearly 15,000 acres of lowland forest for this and other endangered residents, such as the White-mantled Barbet, and wintering migrants such as the Cerulean Warbler.

We continue to work with our partner Fundación ProAves to protect habitat and restore forests at El Paujíl. Outreach programs, such as the annual Blue-billed Curassow Festival started by ProAves, have reduced hunting. In addition, job-training programs for local women and ecotourism opportunities are helping to generate funds to maintain this special place.

Blue-billed Curassow, ProAves Columbia

Blue-billed Curassow by ProAves Columbia

Blue-billed Curassow: See It, Save It

In 2016, ABC and its partners are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Latin American Bird Reserve Network, our successful model for sustainable bird tourism designed to prevent the extinction of rare birds like the Blue-billed Curassow. The network now includes more than 70 tropical reserves spanning close to one million acres. These reserves were created and supported by ABC and more than 30 partner conservation organizations, as well as governments and local communities, in 15 countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

To date, the reserves have attracted well over 25,000 visitors, including birders, photographers, and trekkers whose entrance and accommodation fees have helped to finance reserve management and protection.

You can see Blue-billed Curassow and in doing so, help to save it and more than 350 other bird species. Learn more on our Conservation Birding site.

Get Involved

There are other ways to help; we welcome all and every effort to help us "bring back the birds." If you would like to make a donation, please click here. Or visit our Get Involved page to learn more about how you can help. Together, we can make a difference for this special bird.

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