Friday, March 4, 2011

Plain Chachalaca

A Plain Chachalaca; Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
During the couple of hours we were exploring the forest, I kept hearing a raucus that sounded like a chorus of  "cha -cha-laca-cha-cha-laca..." coming from the thicket. Several times I tried to bushwhack my way to find the owners of the noise, but never did spot anything as I made far too much racket crashing through the brush and the noisemakers escaped. Luis infromed me that the birds that made the sound were Plain Chachalacas (Above). Their loud "cha-cha"calls are frequently heard in the early mornings and evenings at sundown, and the locals wouldn't call their noise as pleasant.

Chachalacas are named after the sound they make, sort of the onomotopoeia of birds. They are an upland game type bird similar to a grouse or chicken but more lean and with a rounder head. They are brown all over with a grayish head and a lighter reddish brown belly. They travel in small flocks of 10-12 and forage in thickets, dense second growth, scrub and forest. They are found mainly in Southeastern Mexico and sometimes make appearances into the southern tip of Texas along the Rio Grande Valley. Even though the Plain Chachalacas are not endangered, they belong to a family of 50 other species spread throughout Central and South America, that are endangered due to overhunting.


Perhaps an hour later, Luis suddenly pointed to a low branch and whispered, "Chachalaca!" And sure enough there was one perched high enough above the thick brush to be in the open for a photo op. I think it felt bad that it didn't stick around long enough to let me take its picture before, so it hopped up onto a branch to let us see it so it could get onto this blog. Thanks Chacha!

Val's pic of the same Plain Chachalaca; Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.

1 comment:

tchesney said...

Oh wow, he is a different looking bird...he looks rather tall! That is quite the pose, even if for only a moment, nice capture to both you and Val! :)