|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|This may not be the most glamorous-looking bird, nor is he standing in the most beautiful surroundings... but what can I say?|
How can anyone resist a name like chachalaca? (Find out what it means in the notes.)
The Plain Chachalaca, Ortalis vetula, is a large bird in the Cracidae family. It breeds in tropical and subtropical environments from mezquital thickets in the Rio Grande Valley in southernmost Texas, United States to northernmost Costa Rica.
In Central America, this species occurs in the Pacific lowlands from Chiapas, Mexico to northern Nicaragua and as a separate population in Costa Rica, where its range is separated by a short distance, as a disjunct population.
The Plain Chachalaca is 56 centimetres (22 in) long and has a mass of 0.65 kilograms (1.4 lb). It is long-necked with a small head and bare throat. Adults have a greyish head and neck with a dull olive-brown body and wings. The underbelly is pale to ochraceous and the tail is blackish with green gloss and buffy-white tip. The iris is brown and bill is black; orbital skin and the feet are dull grey.
This species frequents dry and moist forests, especially where interspersed with scrub and savanna. Usually found in groups of up to 15 birds, the Plain Chachalaca is furtive and wary and prefers to escape from danger by running swiftly on the ground or leaping and gliding through brushy tangles.
The Plain Chachalaca feeds in trees or on the ground on fruit (figs, palms, Sapotaceae), seeds, leaves, and flowers. Chachalacas are also fond of eating cucumber vines and tomato plants, as some gardeners have found out to their woe.
The call is a loud, raucous RAW-pa-haw or cha-cha-LAW-ka, often by several birds in a rhythmical chorus, especially in early morning and evening, usually from well up in trees. It also produces peeping whistles and cackles. Others describe chachalaca calls as irritating noises mimmicing a bunch of arguing women. In fact, the word "Chachalaca" comes from two Spanish words, Chacha for "Woman", and Laca (a corruption of loco) meaning "Crazy".
The Plain Chachalaca typically breeds in the early wet season. The nest is a shallow saucer of twigs and plant fibers, lined with leaves, in thick vegetation. The clutch is 2-4 rough-shelled white to cream eggs.
loot, scottevers7, jlinaresp, horias has marked this note useful
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- [2010-01-11 21:12]
-  [+]
Wow, since mid Nov 2009 this is the 8th posting you made that found a resting place
in my theme for "RARE or SIGNIFICANT contributions to TN". All because of the fact
that each were the 1st postings of their specific species on TrekNature. Seems to me
like you're on a mission.
It is also the first time that I see this (perhaps) not so charming yet very interesting and
out of the ordinary bird. As you said, you've captured it in what is "not the most beautiful
surroundings", but it shows up well enough in the frame. Most of the details are pretty
sharp, unfortunately the head area came out a little soft though.
I see Wikipedia say that: "They were formerly united with the similar-looking Guans into
a subfamily, but are probably closer to the Curassows (though not very much)". Btw, my
lion is getting very lonesome as he cannot join these TrekNature 1st in the theme.
Well done MF and TFS.
PS. Very interesting name this Chachalaca (Chacha + laca (loco) = Crazy woman). I do
suppose a "chuckle" is in order here, unless the dog box might seem more appropriate?
amazing bird, TFS Ori
Great to see that you are still posting and educating. Although it may not be the best photo, it is good enough to show good colors and detail to identify the bird. Superb informative notes as always. (Must be the teacher in you) It's a new one for me....Thanks
- [2010-01-12 6:33]
very good image
Nice to see one of our "chachalaca" (Called "Guacharaca" in Venezuela) photographed by you! Good work, correct light and good POV. Although there is a slight over-sharpening on the neck of the bird, but the rest is a good photo and well represents the characteristics of the species.
- [2010-01-12 11:35]
What a great bird is this Plain Chachalaca!
Wonderful details and colors.