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Gray-headed Chachalaca

The Gray-headed Chachalaca (Ortalis cinereiceps), is a member of an ancient group of birds of the Cracidae family. It breeds in lowlands from eastern Honduras to northwestern Colombia. It occurs a altitudes up to 3600 feet. It is an arboreal species, found in thickets with emergent trees.

These are medium-sized birds that are 20 inches long and weigh barely over a pound. They have fairly dull plumage, dark brown above and paler below. The head is dark gray, and the blackish tail is tipped with pale gray-brown. They are similar in appearance to turkeys, with small heads, long strong legs and a long broad tail.

The broad shallow nest is built of twigs and vines 3-10 feet up in a tree, often partially screened by vines. The female lays three or four large rough-shelled white eggs and incubates them alone. It has a peeping white, white, white contact call and a chorus of raucous kraaak sounds, but does not give the chachalaca call of its relatives.

This is a social bird, often seen in family groups of 6-12. It walks along branches seeking the fruit and berries on which it feeds.

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Gray-headed Chachalaca


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