We all love birds, don't we? With a brick red belly and a jet black head, the hooded pitohui (pitohui dichrous) is a brightly colored creature. Homobatrachotoxin is a neurotoxin present in the skin and plumage (feathers) of these birds that induce numbness and tingling in those that come into contact with it. This is what makes the skin and feathers of these birds toxic. According to analysis, the skin and feathers have been the most toxic components of the birds, while the liver and heart, along with their skeletal muscles were the least toxic. The toxic poison is most abundant in the feathers that protect the breast and abdomen, which makes the bird one of the most toxic birds of nature.
Most of their poison is derived because of their diet such as beetle (of the Melyridae family). The source of the lethal batrachotoxins present in the birds, which is also found in Colombia's poison dart frogs is most likely the beetle, that the birds eat. However, the study of whether the toxin in their body comes from the small beetles that they eat is still undergoing. The newborns do not have any toxin on their bodies, and they develop it gradually after they grow. The variable pitohui and the brown pitohui are similar cousins. They were the first-ever poisonous birds discovered.
What class of animal does a Hooded Pitohui belong to?
The hooded pitohui bird belongs to the class of Aves.
How many Hooded Pitohuis are there in the world?
The exact number of them is not known, however, the population trend is stable and they are pretty common in their native places.
Where does a Hooded Pitohui live?
This species of bird is mainly native to the rainforests of New Guinea.
What is a Hooded Pitohui's habitat?
The hooded pitohui lives in tropical rainforests or the woods.
Who do Hooded Pitohuis live with?
Hooded pitohuis are considered to be social animals and prefer to live in familial groups, and sometimes can be seen living with birds of other species too.
How long does a Hooded Pitohui live?
Not much research has been done on the lifespan of the species. Hence it is not known how long they live. They usually don't possess any big threat in the wild.
How do they reproduce?
Not much is known about these birds, however, they produce fertilized eggs and are dioecious. They practice cooperative breeding, where every member of the family helps in making a nest. This nest helps the birds to lay eggs, for the nourishment of the baby. Birds of this species are extremely protective and constantly keep an eye on the nest, to protect it from outside intruders. After the chicks are born, they are fed insects and berries.
What is their conservation status?
According to The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, the conservation status of Hooded Pitohui (Pitohui dichrous) is of the Least Concern. It also says that the population trend of this species is stable.
Hooded Pitohui Fun Facts
What do Hooded Pitohuis look like?
A hooded pitohui (pitohui dichrous) is a poisonous bird. It has a black head and an orange or red belly, and it's about nine inches long on average. They are passerines, or songbirds, who belong to the Corvidae tribe (along with crows and ravens). Their black legs have sharp claws, and they have a powerful black beak. Its plumage is black and red.
How cute are they?
It is very easy to spot this bird because of the bright colors of its feathers. They are not cute to look at because their eyes and pointed beak give them a scary appearance.
How do they communicate?
Hooded pitohuis use songs to call in order to communicate. They have a collection of songs and the volume can be both soft and high.
How big is a Hooded Pitohui?
A hooded pitohui is about 8.7–9.1 inches in length and 2.3-2.7 oz in weight. An average eagle is about five times the size of a pitohui.
How fast can a Hooded Pitohui fly?
Not much is known about how fast they can fly. However, we can assume that their characteristics and strong features help them fly fast.
How much does a Hooded Pitohui weigh?
An average hooded pitohui weighs about 2.3-2.7 oz.
What are their male and female names of the species?
Males of the species are called cocks and females are called hens. They are monotypic too, which means that they do not have any other subspecies.
What would you call a baby Hooded Pitohui?
Like all baby birds, a baby of hooded pitohui is called a chick.
What do they eat?
The species of birds eat berries, insects, other animals. They prefer beetles (of the Melyridae family), spiders, earwigs, bugs, and a lot more.
Are they dangerous?
Yes, because of their diet (beetles) their skin is poisonous. While other bird species have chemical self-defense systems to keep predators from consuming them, this is the only bird that has been shown to be toxic to humans to date. The poison of these birds can sometimes be so high that it might work just by touching them. Hence, they are dangerous.
Would they make a good pet?
No, these birds live in the wild. Moreover, the species is poisonous, therefore, they would not make a good pet.
Did you know...
It is the world's only recognized species of poisonous bird. The hooded and variable pitohui is the deadliest of the three pitohui species, with a potent toxin in their skin and feathers.
All pitohuis have potent neurotoxic batrachotoxin alkaloids. These are thought to act as a chemical barrier for birds, either against ectoparasites or snakes, raptors, or humans.
Although the variable pitohui and the brown pitohui birds were the first documented poisonous birds to be discovered by science, the indigenous inhabitants of Papua New Guinea were much more aware of it. It's known as the 'garbage pigeon' because of its foul odor, and it's best avoided because of its sour taste and proclivity to make people ill.
Homobatrachotoxin, a neurotoxin, was discovered in their tissues that made these birds the first documented poisonous birds.
By weight, the batrachotoxin family of compounds is the most toxic in nature. Other of these compounds were discovered in the skin of the hooded pitohui such as batrachotoxin-A 3-hydroxypentanoate, batrachotoxin-A cis-crotonate, and batrachotoxin-A.
Why is the hooded pitohui poisonous?
Choresine, a Melyridae beetle from New Guinea, is an integral part of their diet. This beetle is thought to be the source of the lethal batrachotoxins in the bird, as well as the deadly toxins present in Colombian poison dart frogs. Batrachotoxins, or potent neurotoxic steroidal alkaloids, are the compounds in question. Toxins of this kind can cause paralysis and death in high enough doses.
How to pronounce hooded pitohui?
It is pronounced as 'hood-ed pi-too-eey'.
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