STATUS IN THE WILD: Least Concern
RANGE: South America
PHYSICAL FEATURES AND CHARACTERISTICS
The crested screamer is a large, gray bird with occasional black and brown feathers. The body shape and size of a crested screamer resembles that of a goose or turkey. They typically weigh between four to eleven pounds and have a wingspan of about sixty-nine inches. Their head is small, covered with downy feathers and features a short, conical, hooked beak. They may also have white feathers on their head, neck or forewings. Decorative feathers grow in tufts on the back of the head. They have red skin around their yellow or orange eyes. Crested screamers have very large feet, and although they can swim, they do not have webbed feet. They have a large bonelike spur on the inside of both wings that can be about two inches in length. They use their spurs to protect themselves and defend their territories.
LIFESTYLE AND REPRODUCTION
Although crested screamers spend most of their time on the ground, they can swim easily and are excellent flyers. Other than breeding season, crested screamers will gather in large flocks of hundreds of birds to live a nomadic lifestyle looking for food. The large flock is capable of defending against predators. The numbers and the loud call they make also helps discourage predators like foxes, wild cats, or hunting dogs that typically hunt screamers.
Crested screamers develop monogamous relationships that can last several years or even their entire lifespan. A courtship is developed when a couple engages in a loud continual duet and pruning. The couple will make a nest of reeds, sticks, straw, and other aquatic plants near a water source. They try to pick an area that is safe from predators and easy to defend. The female will lay two to seven eggs, but both the male and female will take turns sitting on them. There is a forty to forty-six day incubation period. After the chicks hatch, they leave the nest but stay close to their parents for the next few weeks learning what to eat. The chicks become completely independent at just twelve to fourteen weeks of age. They will then go join other groups and pair off for the breeding season that follows.
Crested screamers live in the southern part of South America in the countries Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and parts of Argentina and Brazil.
Crested screamers are found around tropical lowland fresh water, such as lakes, ponds, rivers, marshes, and swamps. They often roost in trees and shrubs at the water’s edge.
Crested screamers feed on a variety of vegetation, including grasses, stems, seeds, berries, and leaves of several different plants. They will also occasionally eat insects and small animals.