Neotropical Birds logo
Version 1.0

This is a historic version of this account.  Current version


Red-billed Curassow Crax blumenbachii

Christine Steiner S. Bernardo
Version: 1.0 — Published June 17, 2011


Welcome to Birds of the World!

You are currently viewing one of the free accounts available in our complimentary tour of Birds of the World. In this courtesy review, you can access all the life history articles and the multimedia galleries associated with this account.

For complete access to all accounts, a subscription is required.

Subscribe Now

Already a subscriber? Sign in

Distinguishing Characteristics

The species has a total length of 80-93 cm, and weighs on average 3.5 kg. There is sexual dimorphism in plumage and size, with the males being larger. Both sexes present a black head, neck, breast, back, wings and tail. Male (left) and female (right) Crax blumenbachii. © Christine Steiner Sao BernardoMales have white belly and underparts, while in females these areas are cinnamon-brown. Both sexes have a black crest formed by curled feathers, but in the females the crest is barred with black and white. Males also have a red cere, which may be so well developed in older males that it appears to form a knob. Females have a black cere, and never have a bill knob (IBAMA 204).

Similar Species

Crax blumenbachii is morphologically similar to Wattled Curassow (Crax globulosa).  The distributions of these two species do not overlap, however, because Crax globulosa inhabits flooded forests of Amazonia and does not naturally occur in the Atlantic rainforest. In addition, the bill knobs of C. globulosa are more developed than are those of C. blumenbachii, and females of C. globulosa also show a red, not black, cere.

Detailed Description

Sexes differ. The following description is based on Blake (1977):

Male Crax blumenbachii © Christine Steiner Sao BernardoAdult male: Feathers of crown and nape elongated, with recurved tips, forming a well-developed, curly crest. Head (including crest), neck, back, rump, wings, tail, and breast black, glossed with greenish. Belly, undertail coverts, and a long tuft at the base of the tibial feathers white. Brightly colored skin (cere) at base of bill, usually with knob and wattles (see Bare Parts).

Female Crax blumenbachii © Christine Steiner Sao BernardoAdult female: Similar in pattern to male. Crest black, with prominent white bars. Plumage mostly black, as in the male, but the belly, undertail coverts, and tufts on the tibial feathers cinnamon-brown or ochraceous, rather than white; and the wings are variably marked with rufous to chestnut wavy bars. Colored skin (cere) at base of bill, dull in color (see Bare Parts).


Bare Parts

Iris: Dark brown (male) or light brown (female). Narrow area of bare skin around eyes purplish brown.

Bill: Dark brown with black tip (male) or dull blackish (female). Cere and wattles bright lacquer red or orange-red in male; cere dull blackish (female). Male Crax blumenbachii. Note the bright red cere, with a red knob above and wattle below the bill. © Christine Steiner Sao Bernardo

Tarsi and toes: Blackish (male) or dull flesh to dull orange-rose (female)

Data from Delacour and Amadon (1973).


Total length: 80-93 cm

Linear measurements (data from Vaurie 1968: 157):

wing, male: mean 391 mm (range 390-393 mm, n=3); wing, female: mean 371 mm (range 350-385 mm, n=3)

tail, male: mean 340 mm (range 330-351 mm, n=3); tail, female: mean 316.7 mm (range 310-325 mm, n=3)

tarsus, male: mean 110.3 (range 105-115 mm, n=3); tarsus, female: 102.3 mm (range 98-107 mm, n=3)

culmen (exposed), male: mean 43.7 mm (range 41-45 mm, n=3); culmen (exposed), female: mean 42 mm (range 39-45 mm, n=3)

Mass: mean 3-3.5 kg

Recommended Citation

Bernardo, C. S. S. (2011). Red-billed Curassow (Crax blumenbachii), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.rebcur1.01