October 13, 2017
No Trick, Crested Coua Is A Beautiful Treat
- as seen by -Natalia Hook
What kind of bird is behind that beautiful mask?
Surprise! This is no trick, but one of nature’s most beautiful treats. We may like to dress up in costumes and masks for Halloween, but the crested coua (Coua cristata) sports its striking violet and turquoise orbital skin, and pointed crest year round. With white tipped, purplish gray tail feathers, a snowy white belly, and a rufous breast, this comely avian could outdo anyone at a masquerade ball.
Couas, which are related to cuckoos, are native to only to Madagascar. They are not the strongest fliers, but are built more for nimble treetop acrobatics and gliding between trees. Quick moving and agile, they use their long tails to maintain balance as they run and hop along thin branches.
Unlike many of their cuckoo relatives, couas are not parasitic nesters; they do not lay their eggs in other birds’ nests, leaving them to be raised by unwitting surrogates. Crested couas are devoted parents, with both female and male partners building the nest, incubating eggs, and caring for young. Chicks hatch featherless, with dark skin. As juveniles, they are duller in color than their parents and lack the bewitching, colorful mask around the eyes.
You can see crested couas at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo both in Congo Gorilla Forest and at the Pheasant Aviary. If you make time to stop by and visit these stunners, you won’t be disappointed. Whether spreading their wings to soak up the sun, or jumping spryly from twig to twig, these charismatic birds cast a magical spell.