Crestless Curassow Mitu tomentosum


Justification of Red List category

Based on a model of future deforestation in the Amazon basin, and the species’s susceptibility to habitat fragmentation and hunting, it is suspected that its population will decline by 25-30% over the next three generations, and it has therefore been uplisted to Near Threatened.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but this species is described as 'uncommon' (Stotz et al. 1996).

Trend justification
This species is suspected to lose 10.8-15.2% of suitable habitat within its distribution over three generations (29 years) based on a model of Amazonian deforestation (Soares-Filho et al. 2006, Bird et al. 2011). Given the susceptibility of the species to hunting and/or trapping, it is therefore suspected to decline by a rate approaching 30% over three generations.

Distribution and population

Mitu tomentosum is endemic to north-central South America. In Venezuela it is considered locally common (Restall et al. 2006); it was observed frequently at the base of Cerro de la Neblina in 1991. However, it has not been recorded from adjacent Pico da Neblina National Park, Brazil, since before 1960. Elsewhere in north-west Brazil it is fairly common in north Roraima and scarce around Manaus (del Hoyo et al. 1994). In Colombia, it is reported to be locally abundant north of río Caquetá (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Restall et al. 2006). It is uncommon and local in Guyana (Restall et al. 2006). There is a known captive population in Mexico (del Hoyo et al. 1994).


This is a forest species, inhabiting humid terra firme (with no flooding) forest in Colombia as well as gallery forest in the southern llanos (plains) of Colombia and Venezuela, and várzea (seasonally flooded forest) where its range overlaps with Black Curassow Crax alector (Hilty 2003). It is restricted to lowlands up to 500 m in Colombia and 600 m in Venezuela (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Its diet consists of fruits and seeds, and occasionally small vertebrates or insects (Restall et al. 2006). Breeding begins with the arrival of the rains, with the nest placed low in trees (del Hoyo et al. 1994).


The primary threat to this species is accelerating deforestation in the Amazon Basin as land is cleared for cattle ranching and soy production, facilitated by expansion of the road network (Soares-Filho et al. 2006, Bird et al. 2011). It is made additionally vulnerable as it is subject to significant hunting pressure (Restall et al. 2006, A. Lees in litt. 2011). Proposed changes to the Brazilian Forest Code reduce the percentage of land a private landowner is legally required to maintain as forest (including, critically, a reduction in the width of forest buffers alongside perennial steams) and include an amnesty for landowners who deforested before July 2008 (who would subsequently be absolved of the need to reforest illegally cleared land) (Bird et al. 2011).


Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
None is known.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Expand the protected area network to effectively protect IBAs. Effectively resource and manage existing and new protected areas, utilising emerging opportunities to finance protected area management with the joint aims of reducing carbon emissions and maximizing biodiversity conservation. Conservation on private lands, through expanding market pressures for sound land management and preventing forest clearance on lands unsuitable for agriculture, is also essential (Soares-Filho et al. 2006). Campaign against proposed changes to the Brazilian Forest Code that would lead to a decrease in the width of the areas of riverine forest protected as Permanent Preservation Areas (APPs), which function as vital corridors in fragmented landscapes.


75-85 cm. Large cracid with small bill. All black plumage except for rich chestnut belly and tail tips. Small red bill lacking any swelling, reddish legs and toes and reddish-brown iris. Lacks crest. Similar spp. Black Curassow Crax alector and Yellow-knobbed Curassow C. daubentoni both have white rather than chestnut bellies, and yellow rather than red around bill.  Voice Booming call.


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Khwaja, N., Symes, A.

Lees, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Mitu tomentosum. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/crestless-curassow-mitu-tomentosum on 03/10/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org on 03/10/2023.