National Geographic : 1962 Sep
Evidently restricted to a narrow fringe of vegetation along tropical streams, Opisthocomus hoazin has been report ed in widely separated localities in the Amazon and Orinoco watersheds (map, page 395). The more confusing and contra dictory material I uncovered, the more determined I was to study these birds in their habitat, and to bring some back to live in the National Zoological Park in Washington, D. C. To that end, I led three expeditions to British Guiana for the Smithsonian Institution-two of which received support from the National Geographic Society. Operating from headquarters on the Abary River, 35 miles southeast of Georgetown, our party uncovered a number of hitherto unknown facts about this remarkable bird. As it turned out, our first trip, dur ing the drought in the spring of 1959, was mainly exploratory because the hoatzins did not nest that season. But we located nesting areas, saw many birds, and set up a base camp for fu ture use. Our second expedition picked up from there. Accompanied by photog rapher M. Woodbridge Williams, Marg and I reached Georgetown in July, 1960. Ram Singh, chief taxidermist at the British Guiana Museum, told us the hoatzins were just starting to nest. Ram, through the kind permission of Mr. Vincent Roth, director of the museum, was able to go with us. He is an expert on birds in this part of South America, and if he said we had hit their nesting season, we undoubt edly had. I was eager to see. Brooding hoatzin nests above an escape hatch. When threatened, youngsters unhesitatingly dive into the water and swim to a tangle of vines downstream (page 398). © NATIONAL GEOGRAPHICSOCIETY Spying on hoatzin home life, the author and his wife Margaret mount a floating platform on the Abary River. Television viewers remember Mr. Grimmer as the long-time staff associate of "Zoo Parade."