This species and its two close relatives, the Variable Pitohui and the Brown Pitohui, were the first known poisonous birds. A neurotoxin called homobatrachotoxin found in the birds' skin and feathers causes numbness and tingling in those touching the bird.
The Hooded Pitohui gets it's poison from part of its diet, the Choresine beetles of the Melyridae family. These beetles are also a likely source of the lethal batrachotoxins found in Colombia's poison dart frogs.
Common and widespread throughout New Guinea, the Hooded Pitohui is evaluated as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
References[change | change source]
- Dumbacher et al., PNAS 101(45):15857-15860