Green Wednesday: Hoatzin!!

on 12 Dec 2012 
Hoatzin

The Hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin), also known as the Hoactzin, Stinkbird, or Canje Pheasant, is a species of tropical bird found in swamps, riverine forest and mangrove of the Amazon and the Orinoco delta in South America. It is notable for having chicks that possess claws on two of their wing digits.

It is the only member of the genus Opisthocomus (Ancient Greek: "wearing long hair behind", referring to its large crest[clarification needed]), which in turn is the only extant genus in the family Opisthocomidae. The taxonomic position of this family has been greatly debated, and is still far from clear.

The Hoatzin eats the leaves and to a lesser degree fruits and flowers of the plants which grow in the marshy and riverine habitats where it lives. It clambers around clumsily among the branches, and being quite tame (though they become stressed by frequent visits), often allows close approach and is reluctant to flush.

Hoatzins are seasonal breeders, breeding during the rainy season, the exact timing of which varies across its range. Hoatzins are gregarious and nest in small colonies, laying two or three eggs in a stick nest in a tree hanging over water in seasonally flooded forests. The chicks, which are fed on regurgitated fermented food, have another odd feature; they have two claws on each wing. Immediately upon hatching, they are able to use these claws, as well as their oversized feet, to scramble around the tree branches without falling into the water.  The alternative name of "stinkbird" is derived from the bird's manure-like odour, caused by its digestive system.

The Hoatzin is the national bird of Guyana.