Remember that when you leave this Earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received, only what you have given, a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage. -St. Francis of Assisi

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Cha - cha - laca

"hiding" in the trees as I approached

(click on pictures to enlarge)

"The Plain Chachalaca (Ortalis vetula) typically occurs in small groups of 3-5 individuals in tall, thorny thickets, scrubland, and second-growth forest edge along the Gulf-Caribbean slope from the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas and Nuevo Leon, Mexico south to Honduras and Costa Rica. This native, non-migratory gamebird is similar in size and form to a female Ring-necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) and is named for the raucous, ear-splitting chorus a flock makes. The loud cha-cha-lac-a call is most commonly heard during the morning hours, and increases considerably during the February-March breeding season. "

took these pictures as they were flying away from me

"Unlike most other galliform birds, the brownish-olive Chachalaca prefers to spend much of its time in the trees, earning it the nickname of Mexican Tree Pheasant and allowing it to thrive in tangled brushland resulting from logging or other mechanical habitat manipulation. Chachalaca prefer to run along larger limbs through the treetops or scurry through interior branches while feeding on leaves, berries, and seeds. Birds feed in loose flocks of 4-6 in number and tend to select the ripest fruits available, therefore they are often observed feeding in precarious positions, including upside-down. Chachalaca do not scratch on the ground for food, however they will seek out insects and invertebrates when encountered. Feeding activities are generally concentrated near native food sources. Chachalaca also readily consume feed supplied by humans-preferring cracked corn and milo. Flight is heavy and rarely sustained, but brief bursts can be swift and silent. Plain Chachalaca hens typically lay 3 eggs in flimsy-appearing nests constructed on tree limb forks. Like other galliform species, re-nesting is common if initial nests or broods are destroyed. The precocial young are able to cling to tree branches as soon as they dry and can fly short distances within a week of hatching. Adult birds commonly live 5- 8 years in the wild."

Information from Texas Parks and Wildlife

This afternoon, it was my turn to feed the birds at the Visitor's Center. As I was approaching the photo blind, I noticed several Chachalaca's.

They were running around, through the hole in the fence and when I approached, they flew into the trees.

 (The feral hogs keep destroying the fence and we keep trying to repair it.)

I took several pictures with my iPhone.  I cropped the pictures the best that I could.

These are not the pretty, colorful birds that I typically see around the Visitors Center, but they are still interesting and they allowed me to get close to them today.


  1. They are very interesting birds to watch.

  2. I like these birds. The first time I saw these wasn't where you are but the ... aw what is it... San Sabal by Brownsville ... I asked the ranger what they were. She told me and said they were from Mexico. and as Judy said... very interesting to watch.

    I need to google that Park ... it's right on the Rio Grande and they were going to build THAT fence ... wonder if they did.

    wow... it took a bit of googling! Not San Sabal and not a park! lol .... It's Sabal Palm Sanctuary... you been there? Really an interesting place.

    I think your pictures are very good. I'm always surprised by our little iPhone cameras...

  3. The first time I came to Bentsen Rio Grand State Park, I was prepared to spend a lot of time searching for those shy and elusive chachaclacas. I was NOT prepared for the dawn with about 400+ of them shouting out cha-cha-laca, cha-cha-laca, cha-cha-laca. No alarms needed. Nor was I prepared for the hoards of them hanging around each of the trailer sites that fed birds, just waiting for handouts. This was many years ago, of course, when Benson Rio Grand still allowed camping.

  4. They are a rather interesting looking type of bird. I hope you are enjoying your time there. They sound like they could set off car alarms ;-)

  5. Gotta love the Chachalacas!! We are sure that we're in South Texas when they wake us up in the morning!!


  6. When I first saw your new header I thought I was seeing very young roadrunners. These are great pictures and I had never heard of these birds before.
    Thank you for sharing and the lesson.

  7. Love the name of this bird. I'd love to here what they sound like! Your job and life sound FUN! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  8. how very cool! i'd love to see them!

    good luck winning the war against the wild hogs, though! yikes!

    and thank you for stopping by!!!


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