Black Curassow Crax alector


Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.
SACC. 2005 and updates. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #

IUCN Red List criteria met and history
Red List criteria met
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable
- - -

Red List history
Year Category Criteria
2021 Least Concern
2016 Vulnerable A3c
2012 Vulnerable A3c
2009 Least Concern
2008 Least Concern
2004 Least Concern
2000 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1994 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern
Species attributes

Migratory status not a migrant Forest dependency medium
Land-mass type Average mass -

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 2,600,000 medium
Severely fragmented? no -
Population and trend
Value Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
Number of mature individuals unknown not applicable not applicable 0
Population trend decreasing inferred 2020-2046
Decline % (10 years/3 generations future) 1-19 - - -
Decline % (10 years/3 generations past and future) 1-19 - - -
Generation length (years) 8.6 - - -

Population justification: The global population size has not been quantified, but this species is described as 'fairly common' (Stotz et al. 1996). In east Colombia it is locally abundant along the east Andes and Macarena Mountains, where it has been considered the most common large bird at an estimated density of 80 per km2 of forest. In Cerro de la Neblina, east Venezuela, it was considered much less common than another cracid, Razor-billed Curassow Mitu tuberosum, in 1991. In Guyana, it is common only where there is intact habitat and no hunting. In Suriname it was considered common in 1968, and it remains common in primary forest in the south (del Hoyo et al. 1994; Restall et al. 2006; O. Ottema in litt. 2020). Surveys across French Guiana in 2000-2013 found population densities of 0.64 (90% C. I. 0.43 - 1.06) individuals per kmin hunted sites, and 2.96 (90% C. I. 1.99 - 4.26) individuals per kmin unhunted sites (Denis et al. 2016). Further analysis estimated a mean population density of 2.68 (90% C. I. 1.52–7.43) individuals per km2 at undisturbed sites (Denis et al. 2018). In Brazil, it is fairly common in Amapá, northern Roraima, around Manaus and in Pico de Neblina National Park (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Surveys in the Jari region in northeast Brazil detected an average of 0.22 individuals per 10 km of transect in primary forest, and 0.73 individuals per 10 km in secondary forest (Parry et al. 2007).

Trend justification: Remote-sensing data on loss of tree cover with at least 30% canopy cover from the species's range indicate that approximately 3% was lost from 2000 - 2020 (Global Forest Watch 2021). Extrapolating over 26 years, an estimated 4% was lost over the past three generations. Extrapolating forwards the 2016-2020 rate of tree cover loss, an estimated 7% of tree cover may be lost from the species's range over the next three generations.

This species appears to be tolerant of secondary forest, at least in parts of its range, so its population size may not be declining in line with the rate of forest loss. However, there may be an additional impact of disturbance. The species is heavily targeted by hunters across much of its range, which may be causing additional population declines in at least some parts of its range. Surveys across French Guiana in 2000-2013 found population densities of 0.64 (90% C. I. 0.43 - 1.06) individuals per kmin hunted sites, and 2.96 (90% C. I. 1.99 - 4.26) individuals per kmin unhunted sites (Denis et al. 2016), representing a 78% reduction in abundance in hunted sites. Hunting has been found to have strongly depleted the population abundance of curassow species at some locations in the Amazon basin (Peres and Palacios 2007). This species has always been hunted and there is no evidence that the level of hunting is substantially increasing, although deforestation may lead to an increase in hunting as remaining forests become more accessible to hunters.

Assuming that the population size declines in proportion to tree cover loss, that hunting may cause an equivalent population decline, and that disturbance may contribute an additional 50% of the decline caused by deforestation, the species's suspected population reduction over the past three generations is placed in the band 1-9%, and the suspected population reduction over the next threegenerations is placed in the band 1-19%.

Country/territory distribution
Country/Territory Presence Origin Resident Breeding Non-breeding Passage
Brazil extant native yes
Colombia extant native yes
French Guiana extant native yes
Guyana extant native yes
Suriname extant native yes
Venezuela extant native yes

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name
Venezuela Parque Nacional Canaima
Venezuela Parque Nacional Duida-Marahuaca
Venezuela Reserva Forestal Imataca
Venezuela Campamento Junglaven
Venezuela Parque Nacional Parima-Tapirapecó
Venezuela Parque Nacional Serranía La Neblina
Venezuela Reserva Forestal Sipapo
Venezuela Yapacana National Park (Parque Nacional Yapacana IBA)
Venezuela Yavita-Pimichin
Colombia Parque Nacional Natural Sierra de la Macarena
Colombia Riberas del Río Duda
Colombia Estación Biológica Mosiro-Itajura
Colombia Parque Nacional Natural Chiribiquete
Venezuela Monumento Natural Tepui Guaiquinima
Suriname Bakhuys mountains
Suriname Boven Coesewijne Nature Reserve (BCNR)
Suriname Brownsberg Nature Park (BB)
Suriname Centraal Suriname Nature Reserve (CSNR)
Suriname Lely mountain
Suriname Nassau mountain
Suriname North-West Suriname
Suriname Sipaliwini Nature Reserve
Suriname Kabalebo / Arapahu
French Guiana Atachi Bakka
French Guiana Montagne Kaw
French Guiana Parc Amazonien de Guyane et Saül
French Guiana Nouragues
French Guiana Lucifer
French Guiana Trinité
Brazil Área de Relevante Interesse Ecológico Projeto Dinâmica Biológica de Fragmentos Florestais e Entorno
Brazil Tepuis do Amazonas
Brazil Campinas e Várzeas do Rio Branco
Brazil Parque Nacional Montanhas do Tumucumaque
Colombia Bojonawi
Colombia Estrella Fluvial Inírida

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Artificial/Terrestrial Plantations marginal resident
Artificial/Terrestrial Subtropical/Tropical Heavily Degraded Former Forest marginal resident
Forest Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland major resident
Forest Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane suitable resident
Altitude 0 - 1400 m Occasional altitudinal limits (max) 1700 m

Threats & impact
Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Agriculture & aquaculture Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Agro-industry farming Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Agriculture & aquaculture Livestock farming & ranching - Agro-industry grazing, ranching or farming Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Biological resource use Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals - Intentional use (species is the target) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Rapid Declines Medium Impact: 7
Species disturbance, Species mortality
Energy production & mining Mining & quarrying Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion

Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Food - human - - non-trivial recent
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - international non-trivial recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Crax alector. Downloaded from on 02/10/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 02/10/2023.