Great Curassow

Great Curassow
Photo: Inge Curtis

This is a species I may never see in the wild but grateful for this wonderful image of two female Great Curassows in the jungle of Costa Rica. It introduced me to a whole new family, including cracids and guans, as exotic as they sound.

Found throughout Central America and into Mexico, these wild turkey-sized birds are uncommon, not surprising considering adults carry up to 10 lb of meat. Females occur in three morphs, which can merge where they overlap, and those pictured here are the barred variety. Males are different, black with a curly crest and yellow knob on their beak, they care less for camouflage than swanky looks. They are monogamous, but that’s not necessarily characteristic of large, shy birds as we will see when the Northern Jacana appears on a post.

Green Ibis

Green Ibis
Photo: Inge Curtis

Virginia has recorded three species of ibises (surely not ‘ibi’), but never a Green Ibis as far as I know. Inge photographed this one in Costa Rica, close to the northern limit of a huge range across South America. So, it doesn’t strictly qualify as a Northern American bird except for occurring north of the equator and fossil relatives found in Kansas from a rather long time ago, in the Pliocene.

It prefers to feed at dawn and dusk, safer from predators, stabbing with its long down-curved bill in shallow water and mud for shrimp and amphibians. The green sheen on its neck is often unnoticed but I’m told it shimmers in the right light.

Boat-billed Heron

Boat-billed Heron
Inge Curtis

Goofy looks make the Boat-billed Heron a character to remember.

A lucky sighting for Inge in Costa Rica as this is a shy, nocturnal bird and a permanent resident of tropical lowland swamps and mangroves. It captures shrimp and small fish by suddenly lunging with its broad bill open. Fishing in the dark is a rare art for a bird. Bill has large eyes to spot prey in the gloom and perhaps a bill sensitive to touch.