Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Plain Chachalaca

The Plain Chachalaca is found from the Lower Rio Grande Valley south through the lowlands of eastern Mexico into Central America. Despite their superficial resemblance to turkeys, chachalacas are more closely related to Australian megapodes. They are placed in the family Cracidae, which includes a number of other large gamebirds (guans and curassows). Unlike most other Gracidae, Plain Chachalacas prefer scrubland and forest edge rather than the deep forest. Thus these chachalacas are less prone to be threatened by tropical deforestation. Urban sprawl and large-scale agriculture, however, do threaten the species.

Chachalacas are named after their raucous dawn choruses. Erika and I found Plain Chachalacas in almost every refuge we visited in south Texas. The photo above was taken at the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. Most of the refuges in this region maintain bird-feeders, which make visits particularly rewarding for birders.

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