Our main attention goes out to Cracidae: chachalaca’s, guans and curassows. Birds that inhabit the jungles and mountains in Middle- and South America. They extend from Central Mexico to the south of Uruguay and northern Argentina.

Chacalaca’s are the smallest members of the family, their colour is duller than those of the guans and they live mainly in the drier parts of the tropics and spend a bit more time on the ground than guans do. Guans are medium-sized birds that are primarily arboreal. There are fifteen species of guans. Curassows are larger than other Cracidae and more terrestrial, spending half of the day on the ground. There are 14 species of curassows.

The primary threats to these birds include:

  1. Habitat loss and degradation: Deforestation and other forms of land use change are the biggest threat to Cracidae populations.
  2. Hunting and poaching: Overhunting for food, as well as for their feathers, eggs, and other body parts, is a major threat to some species of Cracidae.
  3. Climate change: Changes in rainfall patterns and other climatic factors can disrupt the birds' habitats and food sources.
  4. Disease: The spread of diseases, such as avian influenza, can have a significant impact on Cracidae populations.

Some of the steps that can be taken to conserve these birds include:

  1. Habitat protection and management: Protecting and managing habitats, such as tropical forests, is crucial for the survival of Cracidae species. This can be achieved through the creation of national parks and biological reserves.
  2. Restrictions on hunting: Hunting of Cracidae species should be regulated to ensure that their populations are not depleted. Laws and enforcement measures can be put in place to prevent over-exploitation of these birds.
  3. Research and monitoring: Research and monitoring programs are important for understanding the distribution, population trends, and habitat requirements of Cracidae species. This information can be used to set conservation goals.
  4. Education and awareness: Raising awareness and educating people about the importance of Cracidae species and the threats they face is essential for securing support for conservation efforts.
  5. Restoration of degraded habitats: Restoration of degraded habitats, such as the replanting of forests, can help to increase the available habitat for Cracidae species.
  6. Conservation breeding in- and ex-situ.

How we keep our Cracids:

Our curassows are in aviaries with an outside part of at least 12m² planted with some palm trees (Trachycarpus fortunei), bambou, Buddleja davidii, ... And because of climate conditions in my area, they all have an inside part of 4m². The inside part is kept above freezing temperature to avoid birds from getting frost-injuries. Sand is used inside to cover the concrete floor to keep it dry and make it easy to clean. The floor surface outside is mostly covered with wood bark and sand. Cracids love to take sand baths.  Food is standard pellets for Galliformes (Versele Show 4 and Dindo 2.2) with a snack of different fruits, vegetables and Versele T16. Most perches are inside to ensure they sleep under the protection of the roof. Because the guans are more arboreal, I always put more perches in their aviaries, inside and outside.

Once eggs are laid, they go in the incubator. I use Grumbach incubators as to me they are the most reliable machines on the market. And we are lucky to have a breeding specialist for these, Mr. Ivo Tresinie, in our area. Eggs are bred at 37,2 ° C and 40 % RH, although this can vary on the species.

Young birds are raised on a mix of Versele Dindo 1 crumble and Show 1&2 crumble. Water is always supplemented with calcium. First week they are kept in a heated cage at 36 °C. After that they go in bigger cages with heating bulbs and UV lights depending on the size they have. Important is they get perches from day 1 to ensure good growth in their feet and legs. Cracids chicks grow slower than most other species of Galliformes and will reach their almost adult size after several months. They are fully grown after 18 months. Reproduction takes place mostly at the age of three years, although there are exceptions.

Some species of Cracids

Crax rubra "barred morph"

Crax rubra "normal morph"

Crax rubra "red morph"

Crax daubentoni

Crax fasciolata

© Erik Puts

Crax alberti

Crax globulosa

Crax blumenbachii

Pauxi pauxi

Pauxi unicornis

Mitu tuberosa

Mitu tomentosa

Mitu salvini

Nothocrax urumutum