Don’t serve this one on Thanksgiving!

The Hoatzin (Ophisthocomus hoazin) is known as the ‘Stinky Turkey’ to Amazon natives because of the bad odors produced by the fermentation of leaves in the bird’s crop. Unlike most birds, Hoatzins eat the leaves of plants, and to a lesser degree the fruits and flowers. The Hoatzin’s digestive system is unique among birds. Hoatzins use bacterial fermentation in the front part of the gut (called the ‘crop’) to break down the green leafy materials they consume, much like cattle and other ruminants do in their specialized stomachs. The aromatic chemicals produced by fermentation smell bad – giving the bird its common name, as well as a low ranking on the desirability scale for local native hunters. The chicks are interesting in that they have ‘claws’ on their wings to help them climb branches.

The taxonomy of this bird has been greatly debated, and no satisfying evolutionary hypothesis has ever been proposed. (See

We have a great collection of Hoatzin shots taken in Ecuador.


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