- The Hoatzin represents a unique species of tropical bird and appears to also be endemic to a very specific type of habitat throughout its natural range.
- The extremely unusual bird also remains widely regarded as the most enigmatic of all known extant species of bird.
- It remains so distinct from any other recognized avian that scientists now classify it in its own separate family and suborder.
- The Hoatzin also has the well-deserved reputation of exuding a strong manure-like odor.
- There remains no clear picture of the evolutionary path of this animal to the present.
Hoatzin Physical Description
In terms of general shape, the Hoatzin appears similar to the pheasant. The total body length averages roughly 26 in (65 cm), with no discernible sexual dimorphism.
The neck grows elongated, and the head stays relatively small. The face also appears devoid of feathers. The species also remains noted for its bright maroon colored eyes. Atop the head sits a large spiky crest.
The tail grows long and broad, while the wings and back typically show a dark shade of brown. The underside typically displays combinations of off-white and chestnut in color.
One unexplained evolutionary trait of the Hoatzin ranks as extremely unique. Though they disappear shortly after birth, the hatchlings are born with claws on their wing digits.
Species: O. hoazin
Hoatzin Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
In the Amazon Basin, the Hoatzin occurs in riparian forests, mangrove forests, and swamps. Elsewhere in South America, it also lives in the Orinoco Delta.
The Hoatzin feeds primarily on the leaves of plants native to its specific habitat, and also on the fruit and flowers occasionally.
Despite the relatively large wings, the bird is a poor flier. It also remains quite clumsy on the ground, moving awkwardly. The bird also possesses a generally mild temperament.
The animal generally congregates in small colonies, and breeding occurs during the rainy season.
The existence of the claws on the wings of the hatchlings has led many to believe it is descended from the Archaeopteryx, which disappeared around 150 million years ago.
There remains absolutely no evidence of that, however.