GHeaded Chachalaca

Common name: Chachalaca

Type: Bird

Family: Cracidae

Range: This is the chicken-like bird that you can find wooded habitats in the Texas in the southern United States, Mexico, and Costa Rica in Central America and in South America.

Size: Both sexes of Chachalaca are 55 centimeters (21.7 inches) long.

Weight: You can see this large bird as weighs around 300 to 685 grams (10.6-24.2 Oz).

Diet: The Chachalaca normally climbs on treetops to find out the foods. It eats seeds, grains, berries and leaves. The group of birds prefers to search for the ripening fruits in loose flocks of 5 to 6 numbers and hence we can observe them feeding in the precarious positions. They also feed in the position of upside-down.
When these birds encounter insects and invertebrates, they prefer to seek them as food. They don’t scratch on the ground for food.

Chachalaca mostly prefers to eat food from the nearer sources. They also preferred to get cracked corn and Milo from humans.
Average lifespan: The average lifespan of this bird would be 5 to 8.8 years in the wild

Habitat: The Chachalaca normally prefers to live near the water ground. You can find it in the river woodlands, dry and moist forests that interspersed with savanna and scrub. It also prefers to live in thickets, dense second growth forests and mostly in semi-arid regions. Because of this, you can easily find them in the forests and beach of Costa Rica in a wider range.

Breeding/Reproduction: If you consider about the breeding of Chachalaca, it normally breeds in the annual rainfall season depends on the geographic range. It probably builds the nest on the tree as downy one. This is because, and then only the children can follow the mother. Both sexes form the nest with leaves, sticks, saucer of twigs and plant fibers as the shallow one. It normally places the nest in thick vegetation. Occasionally it uses the old nest that already presents in a low tree branch.

Like other species, it also rebuilds the nest in case of destroy of nest or broods. The female bird normally lays 2 to 4 white to cream eggs with rough-shelled. The incubation period would be three to four weeks. After the hatching, the child would come out of the nest in two to three weeks. The food would be fed by both sexes to their children.

The Chachalaca is a bird with small head, long-necked and bare throat. The head of the adults would be greyish and they have neck with a dull olive-brown body and wings. The tail of the bird is blackish with green gloss, underbelly is pale to ochraceous and the tip of the tail is buffy-white. The feet and orbital skin are grey colored one. They have bill in black color and iris as brown colored one.

Chachalaca is treated as the social bird. These birds are usually remaining common even near the humans and sometimes noisy. Because of the small size of the bird, most of the hunters have less desire to hunt this bird. Usually you can find this bird as a group of 15 birds and whenever they encounter with any danger, they prefer to run swiftly on the ground or they are gliding through brushy tangles. Compare to other chicken relatives available in North America, this is the bird treated as largely arboreal one. This bird mostly spends the time as foraging in trees.

The call of this Chachalaca bird is loud and it makes the sound as raw-pa-haw or cha-cha-law-ka. The sound is normally a rhythmical chorus by several birds and they especially make the sound in morning and evening from well up in trees. At the time of breeding season, the sound increases considerably. Sometimes they also produce cackles and peeping whistles. Most of the people describe the calls of Chachalaca as irritating noises and that makes the feel as argument of bunch of women. This Chachalaca doesn’t migrate.

When you consider about Chachalaca, this is the only bird that reaches out the United States from the family of guans, Chachalacas and currasows. From the range of Mexico to southern South America, this family contains more than 50 species, and many of them are endangered by over-hunting of the people.

Found in the following Parks:

Braulio Carrillo National Park
Corcovado National Park
Cahuita National Park
Carara National Park
Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge
Tortuguero National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park
La Selva Biological Reserve
La Amistad National Park

There are five recognized subspecies of this family that you can find in the region of the United States and are,

• O.v.vetula: You can find this species from southern Veracruz of Mexico to northwest Costa Rica. So, when you visit Costa Rica
don’t forget to visit this species through the parks

• O.v.mccalli: This species is available in the range of extreme southern Texas in the United States to northern Veracruz of Mexico

• O.v.pallidiventris: This species can be seen in the areas of northern Yucatan Peninsula

• O.v.deschauenseei: This is an Island species and you can find this on Utila Island and off Honduras

• O.v.intermedia: This species is available in the parts of Central America

When you consider about the population of this bird in Costa Rica, which is one of the countries available in Central America you would probably come up with the result as over hunting. Since this is undeveloped country, most of the people don’t aware of the dangerous things behind the deforestation. The efforts to re-establish the species in these areas can give life to the forest and also to the species.

But, there are some national parks available in Costa Rica to provide Chachalaca with full protection from hunting. When you visit Costa Rica, it would be better to visit these parks, in order to enjoy with the behavioral and appearance of the bird. This would be more helpful for the students who want to go for research among these species. Compare to other countries of the United States, the Chachalaca range is now limited to valley because of the problem of hunting.

Since these birds are normally difficult to spot in the native because of their secretive living in dense vegetation, the hunters can go through the challenging hunting experience with these birds. But, it would be better to go for bird watching rather than hunting these birds.

When you will visit Costa Rica, you will feel really great and energetic by watching Chachalaca in woodlands of Costa Rica.

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