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(wätsēn`) [Aztec], common name for a peculiar marsh bird, Opisthocomus hoatzin. The hoatzin is a slender bird with a brownish plumage spotted with white above and reddish-yellow to rust below. It may reach up to 25 in. (64 cm) in length, but weighs no more than 1 3-4 lb (810 grams). It has a long tail of 10 loosely bound feathers, and a large, bristly crest mounted on a tiny skull. Its young are good swimmers and are peculiar in having claws on their first and second wing digits, which they use along with their short curved bills and weak toes for climbing trees. In this respect the hoatzin is reminiscent of the extinct lizard-bird Archaeopteryx. As the young mature and begin to fly (though never especially well), the claws dwindle. Hoatzins are sometimes called reptile-birds because of their crocodilian odor and harsh, monotonous call. In yet another respect, they are the most advanced of avians. In other birds, food is broken up in the gizzard, but the hoatzin accomplishes this in its well-developed, muscular, horny-walled crop, and its gizzard is much reduced. The hoatzin's specialized diet consists of certain marsh plants, including the mangrove, and the bird is thus restricted to the riverine forests centering around the Amazon Basin where it lives in small colonies of 10 to 50 birds. Both sexes participate in the building of loosely entwined stick nests, 5 to 20 ft (1.5–6.1 m) over the water, in the forks of riverbank trees. The female lays two to four small eggs per clutch, which are yellowish in color with pink or brown spots. Little is known of the incubation period or of parental responsibilities. Hoatzins are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Galliformes, family Opisthocomidae.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Opisthocamus hoazin), a bird, the only species of the suborder Opisthocomi of the order Galliformes. Body length, approximately 60 cm. The plumage on top is olive with white spots, and the abdomen is reddish. Hoatzins are distributed in South America from Colombia to Bolivia. They keep to flooded river thickets. Hoatzins are barely able to fly and spend a large portion of their time in trees. They nest from December through July. There are two to four eggs in a clutch. In the young, claws develop on the first and second digits of the wing. The claws help the young birds to creep along branches, but they disappear in the adult hoatzin. The diet is vegetarian. The hoatzin has an unpleasant odor, and its meat is inedible.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The horned screamer (Anhima cornuta), a fat black bird with a loud, trumpetlike cry, nests on the banks, together with the noisy hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin).
But hoatzins have an unusually big crop (food-storage pouch) and esophagus (tube leading from the mouth to the stomach), explains Alejandro Grajal, an ornithologist (bird scientist).
Since describing the bird, Opisthocomos hoazin, in 1776, ornithologists have had problems pinpointing its closest kin, as the hoatzin looks and acts so unlike other birds.
While performing autopsy studies on the red-eyed, foul-smelling jungle birds in their native Venezuela, Rodriguez discovered that the adult hoatzin harbors remarkably few parasites or disease-causing bacteria.
Strahl ventured into the forests of central Venezuela eight years ago to study an avian oddity known as the hoatzin (pronounced WAT-sin or wat-SEEN), he followed in the footsteps of only a handful of naturalists from the 1910s and '20s.
Also of note are intriguing stories about the brine shrimp-eating flamingos of the Atacama Desert, the bone-eating Lammergeiers of the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa, and the leaf-eating Hoatzins of the Amazon, to mention just a small sample on offer.
Woodpeckers, hoatzins, parrots and monkeys appear utterly unperturbed by our slowly drifting presence, nor by the sudden violent downpour that instigates a clattering of lens caps as we retreat under some plastic sheeting, silently watching as the force of the rain turns the water milky.
bandores banjoist Brahmins broadens confuted habitude halutzim hedonist hoatzins hordeins joinders pibrochs spheroid
Two relatively widespread, although not species rich, families are represented at the South American sites, but not in Panama: Opisthocomidae (Hoatzins, Opisthocomus hoazin) and Psophiidae (screamers).
Narrow channels are filled with the sounds of a crowd of whistling sun bitterns and ducks and of hoatzins, a partridge-like bird, sheltered in overhanging branches, while darting spectacled caymans and shad splash ahead of the penero.
Seuss, turkey-like, claw-winged hoatzins vie for attention with azure gallinules; macaws, parrots, and troupials call out overhead.
Hoatzins: cooperative breeding in a folivorous neotropical bird, p.