Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

curassow the name for a bird in one group of the family Cracidae. The other two main groups have the names chachalaca and guan. All these birds bear a general resemblance to the hen, pheasant, or turkey. The chachalacas, relatively small, can look like scrawny hens as they scratch around in barnyards. Curassows, on the other hand, are large and may be compared to turkeys. Their size gives them more importance as table birds. The great curassow, Crax rubra, may weigh as much as 4.5 kg (10 lb).

The name curassow comes from the Caribbean island of Curaçao, whence the first specimens to be seen in Europe. Whether or not this family of birds originated in S. America, that is certainly the region where they evolved most rapidly and are best known. The northerly limit of their range is the frontier between Mexico and Texas; the southern limits are N. Argentina and Uruguay.