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curassow (kyûrˈəsōˌ) [key], common name for the largest members of an order of game birds called pigeon-toed fowls, which includes the white-crested guan and the rufous-bellied chachalaca, Ortalis wagleri. These gregarious roosting birds, found from Texas to Argentina, vary from 20 to 40 in. (50–100 cm) in length and are brownish to olive-green in color. They feed on fruit, vegetation, and insects. Curassows are larger than other members of the family and have an erect crest and bright orange or yellow bills. The great curassow, Crax rubra, is found from Mexico to Ecuador. The meat of these birds is a delicacy. Although none are found in the Dutch West Indies, their name is taken from the island of Curaçao. They are easily tamed. Curassows are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Galliformes, family Cracidae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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