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Death takes flight on the bird which can land you in hell

‘You touch it and you die! It is as simple as that.

Few people have heard of this poisonous bird, which is believed to kill any human who will be unlucky enough to touch it.

Not that the Hooded Pitohui (Pitohui Dichrous) usually stand there to be touched but it doesn’t hurt to take heed.

The Hooded Pitohui is a species of bird in the Genus Pitohui endemic to New Guinea.

It was long thought to be a whistler (Pachycephalidae) but is now known to be in the Old World oriole family (Oriolidae).

This species and its two close relatives, the Variable Pitohui and the Brown Pitohui, were the first documented poisonous birds.

A neurotoxin called homo-batrachotoxin found in the birds’ skin and feathers, causes numbness and tingling in those touching the flying creature.

The Hooded Pitohui acquires its poison from part of its diet; it usually feeds on 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 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

The medium-sized songbird with reddish-brown and black plumage, this species is one of the few known poisonous birds, containing a range of Batrachotoxin compounds in its skin, feathers and other tissues.

These toxins are thought to be derived from their diet and may function both to deter predators and to protect the bird from parasites.

The close resemblance of this species to other unrelated birds also known as Pitohuis which are also poisonous is an example of convergent evolution and Müllerian mimicry.

Their appearance is also mimicked by unrelated non-poisonous species, a phenomenon known as Batesian mimicry.

The toxic nature of this bird is well known to local hunters, who avoid it. It is one of the most poisonous species of pitohui, but the toxicity of individual birds can vary geographically.

The hooded pitohui is found in forests from sea level up to 2,000 meters but is most common in hills and low mountains.

A social bird, it lives in family groups and frequently joins and even leads mixed-species foraging flocks. Its diet is made up of fruits, seeds and invertebrates.

This species is apparently a cooperative breeder, with family groups helping to protect the nest and feed the young. The hooded pitohui is common and is currently not at risk of extinction, with its numbers being stable.