Hoatzins have leaves all around them in their lush, tropical habitat.
The hoatzin (pronunced hoh-AT-sin) is one confused critter: Scientists recently discovered that this South American bird eats green leaves and buds--just like a cow
Blair Hedges of Pennsylvania State University in University Park and his colleagues compared the DNA sequences of hoatzins and 13 other types of birds, they report in the Dec.
Indeed, the team recommends placing hoatzins in their own suborder, Opisthocomi, in the Cuculiformes order.
The finding shows that 220 years of research on the hoatzin was no wild-goose chase.
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.
Strahl's own history with hoatzins began in the 1960s.
So Strahl began work at a small research station 150 miles south of Caracas, Venezuela, a region crisscrossed by 2,500 acres of lush forest and twisting rivers -- prime nesting areas for hoatzins.
To study the creature further and to educate the public about a bird the Guyanese call "the stinking pheasant," Strahl and Grajal plan to transport 11 hoatzins to the Bronx Zoo this winter for captive breeding.