PHOTOS: Houston Zoo successfully hatches 2 rare Blue-billed Curassow chicks

The Houston Zoo successfully hatched two new Blue-billed Curassow chicks yesterday. Considered some of the most critically endangered birds, the Houston Zoo will be hand-rearing one chick (cared for by a person after hatching) and using the blue-billed curassow hen to parent-rear the other chick.

The Houston Zoo successfully hatched two new Blue-billed Curassow chicks yesterday. Considered some of the most critically endangered birds, the Houston Zoo will be hand-rearing one chick (cared for by a person after hatching) and using the blue-billed curassow hen to parent-rear the other chick. Due to its rarity, it’s been over 25 years since the Houston Zoo has attempted parent-rearing after hatching a curassow chick.

Blue-billed Curassow Baby Chick 2021 (Bethany Shick/Houston Zoo)

Before the Zoo’s addition of their Pantanal exhibit, which includes the Blue-billed Curassow, Blue-Throated Macaw and other animals, the curassow chicks were foster-reared with domestic chickens. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums has considered the parents of the curassow chicks to be genetically valuable. As guests visit the Pantanal exhibit, they will be able to see one chick along with the curassow hen as well as the male curassow (imported from Portugal in 2011 as a crucial part of AZA’s Species Survival Plan). The hand-reared chick is currently in a different facility, but it was reported that both chicks are doing well and thriving.

Blue-billed Curassow Baby Chick 2021 (Bethany Shick/Houston Zoo)

Native to Colombia and listed as critically endangered, the Zoo has been home to some blue-billed curassows since the 1960s. According to the release, there are fewer than 2,500 of the birds left in areas of Northern Columbia. According to the Zoo, a way for guests to distinguish the male and female curassows is by looking at their feathers:

  1. The male is black with a white vent and tip to the tail, the feathers on the crest are distinctively curled.
  2. Females are black with black and white crest feathers and fine white barring on the wings and tail.
Blue-billed Curassow Baby Chick 2021 (Bethany Shick/Houston Zoo)

As a critically endangered bird, the curassow continues to face major threats in its natural habitat including changes in living conditions, deforestation and hunting. The Houston Zoo helps to save these endangered birds through breeding and providing extensive training to partners in Colombia. More than 50 curassows have been born in Houston so far.

Blue-billed Curassow Baby Chick 2021 (Bethany Shick/Houston Zoo)
Blue-billed Curassow Baby Chick 2021 (Bethany Shick/Houston Zoo)

For more information on the blue-billed curassow or to find out how you can help the Houston Zoo save wildlife, go here.