The Plain Chachalaca
Game Birds Types of Birds
Ten New World Cracidae species, best known for the Chachalacas, inhabit Central America north through the Arctic.
Part of the larger order, Galliformes, Cracidae are a Neotropical family related to the North American game birds such as grouse and pheasants.
Like North American game birds, their history gets related in stories of their utility as a food source for the human populations within and at the edges of their natural habitat.
First time visitors to south Texas might be inclined to initially mistake them for chickens, tree climbing chickens at that.
The Plain Chachalaca (Ortalis vetula), a chicken like bird, represents the Cracidae family north of the United States-Mexico border.
They are fairly large birds, reaching two feet in height. The top picture shows the bird's small head and large tail, brown on the top and brown with white tips on the bottom.
Chachalacas are well known for their vocalization, a series of chac-a-lac calls that spring from their throats as they jump or fly from one tree to another.
Interestingly enough, they share another feature with chickens. Calling a person a chicken usually means that person lacks courage. In some areas of its range, calling a person a chachalaca usually means that person talks too much.
© 2008-2011. Patricia A. Michaels