Weird Wildlife 3

Yup, it’s time for another round of Weird Wildlife!

Continuing the bird theme from last time, we’ll be taking a look at one today that goes in a different direction than most.

Allow me to present: The Hoatzin.

Sure, it may look a little unusual with its bright red eyes and blue face, but that’s not why I’m sharing this creature with you.

No, this lovely bird (also known as “The Stinkbird”, because ornithologists can be cruel sometimes) is unusual in many more ways than its simple coloration.

For one, it primarily eats leaves.  A section of its gut is devoted to fermentation to break down vegetable matter, a unique adaptation among birds but not among cows.  This allows them to process a lot of vegetation without necessarily relying on things like berries or seeds (though they do eat flowers and fruit infrequently).  It is this diet that supposedly gives them an odor of fresh cow manure or sweet-smelling hay.

But perhaps one of the more interesting aspects of this bird is that, until it reaches about three months old, it has claws on its wings.

That’s right, two claws on each of its wings.  It uses them to get around the trees it lives in, as well as part of a defense against predators.

See, the birds prefer to live in the swamps and mangroves of the Amazon.  The young fowl, when confronted with an enemy they can’t escape or hide from, will throw themselves out of the tree and into the water.

Turns out they’re excellent swimmers, as well.

They swim away from the predator, and wait for them to leave, before using their claws to climb back up the tree and into the nest.

Hoatzin - Manu NP - Perù 9203 (15525812066).jpg

Say, does this remind you of a previous type of bird that fell out of trees?

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