Sunday, 28 November 2010

Rufous-headed chachalaca

Ortalis erythroptera

Photo by Roberto Pujana (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:

Order Galliformes
Family Cracidae

This South American species is only found in the extreme south-west of Colombia, along the western parts of Ecuador, and in the north-west of Peru.

These birds are 56-66 cm long. Males tend to be larger than females, with males weighing 900 g and females 760 g.

They traditionally inhabit dry and deciduous woodland, lowland riparian forests, humid lowland forests and lower mountain cloud-forests up to an altitude of 1850 m. They are also found in degraded forest habitats, scrubland, and even agricultural land.

They mostly eat fruits and other plant material. Birds have been seen eating coffee berries and bananas. Their diet may also occasionally include insects.

The rufous-headed chachalaca is a monogamous species. They possibly breed during the wet season, in December-May. Females lay an average 3 eggs.

IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
With a total population of less than 10.000 individuals, the rufous-headed chachalaca is believed to be declining due to habitat destruction and fragmentation. In Ecuador, lowland forests currently cover less than 5% of their original extent. In the higher parts of the species range, deforestation has been slower, but logging, cattle-ranching and oil palm plant are slowly destroying and fragmenting the habitat.

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