GUANS and CURASSOWS.
No spurs. Toes long and slender. Hind toe long and on same level as the other toes. Tail of twelve feathers. The young when hatched are covered with down. Exclusively American. By their habits they appear to be the link that joins the Pigeons to the Game Birds.
Guans and Curassows differ from true Game Birds (Tetraonidae and Phasianidae), and resemble Megapodes in the position of the hind toe and form of the sternum, but they differ entirely from the latter in their breeding habits; the eggs (white and usually two in number) being laid in a nest, made either in a tree or on the ground, and incubated in the usual manner.
Fifty-six species are known, all inhabitants of the forest regions of C. and S. America, where they seem to take the place of the ordinary large game birds of the Old World. These may be grouped into three subfamilies, viz.—
(i.) Cracinae, with the height of the upper mandible greater than its width, which includes the following genera: Crax or True Curassows, large birds, 30" to 35" in length, comprising eleven species, with curly recurved crest; Northocrax, one species, 24" long, with flat crest; Mitua, three species of razor-billed birds, 28" to 35" in length, with crests not curled; and Pauxis, one species, 33" long, with short velvety crest and an egg-shaped helmet covering the base of the bill and forehead.
(ii.) Oreophasinae, with height of upper mandible less than its width, containing one species of Mountain Pheasant, 36" long, with crest almost bare, a straight cylindrical casque on the top of the head, and cheeks and base of bill densely feathered.
(iii.) Penelopinae, with height of upper mandible less than its width, which includes the following genera:—
Penelope or Penelopes, large Pheasant-like birds from 22" to 35" long, comprising sixteen species, with feathered crest, the eye-patch, chin, and throat being naked, with median wattle; Ortalis or Guans, like Pigeons or Partridges, from 16" to 25" long, comprising seventeen species, with long tail, a band of thin feathers on a bare throat, and no wattle; Pipile, containing three species of Piping Guans, 30" long, the front neck naked, with a median wattle; Aburria, a species of wattled Guan, 29" long, having the foreneck feathered with a long vermiform wattle; and Champetes, containing two species of Sickle-winged Guans, 24" long, with chin and throat feathered, and no wattle. (O.G. 200-258.)