Bird of the Week, October 11, 2013
Rufous-headed Chachalaca


Rufous-headed Chachalaca by David Wiedenfeld


A flock of Rufous-headed Chachalacas—chicken-like, tree-dwelling birds—begin to call together, their loud, raucous voices echoing through the dry forest. It’s this characteristic “chachalac” sound that gives the birds their name. As one flock begins to call, it triggers a nearby flock, and then that group’s neighbors sound off too in a chain reaction. Soon an entire valley or hillside can be heard “chachalaca-ing” as groups of these birds advertise their whereabouts to one another.


This species, like other chachalacas, lives in flocks of four to 10 individuals. It has a small and contracting range, affected by rapid habitat loss and severe fragmentation. The greatest threat Rufous-headed Chachalacas face is hunting pressure; they are considered a good food source by many rural people and are highly sought-after. The birds are also threatened by loss of forests to agriculture.


One of the healthiest populations of Rufous-headed Chachalaca occurs at Fundación Jocotoco’s Buenaventura Reserve in southern Ecuador, which was created with support from ABC. The reserve not only protects this beautiful and vulnerable bird, but also the highly threatened El Oro Parakeet and El Oro Tapaculo.


Help ABC conserve this and other birds and their habitats!





Range Map, ABC