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On the biology of the American Finfoot in southern Mexico.

Alvarez del Toro, M. 1971.
On the biology of the American Finfoot in southern Mexico.
Living Bird, 10: 79–88.


I observed the American Finfoot (Heliornis fulica) in southern Mexico over a period of 2 yr. This species inhabits sluggish streams and rivers with densely vegetated margins and the edges of lakes. It lives solitarily, and each male appears to maintain his territory throughout the year, defending it with a circling display on the water. Courtship occurs toward the end of February. After pairing, the female assists in defending the territory. Both members of the pair construct the nest, a platform of sticks lined with leaves, in a tangle of dense vegetation over water. The female lays 2 eggs, and both sexes share the incubation which lasts from 10.5 to 11 d. The female is attentive from late afternoon until mid-morning the following day; the male incubates during the day.

The chicks are naked and helpless when hatched. The male places each chick under a wing in a “pocket”, formed by a pleat of skin and feathers. In the nest that I observed, the male left the nest with the chicks in the pockets the day after hatching, but he probably kept the young in the pockets and fed them there until they had gained some independence.

My observations are the first to confirm the statements, made by Wied in 1833, concerning the carrying of young by the finfoot.



Appended to the PDF is the cover page of the journal (a painting of the Southern Helmeted Curassow) and an account of the cover image by Albert Earl Gilbert (the account contains a summary of the curassows).

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