The guacharaca culirroja (Ortalis ruficauda) is a tropical bird of the order Galliformes. It is also known as “chachalaca” or “Cocrico”.
This species is a member of an ancient group of birds of the cracid family, which groups about fifty species and is related to megapods. The latter are known as mound building birds that inhabit Australasia.
Distribution of the Guacharaca Culirroja
The Guacharaca Culirroja lives only in America. It is endemic to neotropical zones: northeastern Colombia and northern Venezuela, although it also inhabits Trinidad and Tobado, where it is one of the two national birds.
The guacharaca culirroja resides in deciduous thickets, gallery forests and forest patches in the drier lowlands of northeastern Colombia, northern Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago, as we mentioned earlier.
In Venezuela, the guacharacas generally do not inhabit the depths of humid forests, but prefer scrubs, thick edges of streams or low forests that are found in the drier parts of the tropics.
These birds have an appearance and size similar to that of chickens and pheasants. They have a small head, long neck, body with large and strong legs and a relatively long tail. They also emit serious and resonant songs.
This species has an opaque and discreet plumage. The predominant colors are gray, brown and black, which serve as camouflage on the branches and on the ground. The females of this species also have a dark brown morphology with a light brown body portion.
Habits of the red-headed guacharaca
The guacharacas are mainly diurnal birds. They show more activity in the early morning before dawn, at which time they are heard making loud calls.
These birds prefer to nest in trees. Primarily, they feed on fruits and herbs, so they eat soft fruits, seeds, flowers, green sprouts and leaves. Because of its fruiting habits, this bird is a good seed disperser and therefore has importance in forest regeneration.
Recent studies have described the Guacharaca culirroja as an indicator species of the state of forest conservation. In addition, this bird is a social species that usually meets to look for food in flocks of 4-20 birds.
The guacharacas usually rest in the hottest hours of the day. Of course, their resting places are always in the trees. They also take dust baths and are believed to be used to deal with external parasites. Although, they can also be part of the courtship ceremony.
It should be noted that these birds are monogamous. In addition, they usually nest in trees and both the male and the female contribute to the construction of the nest. During the reproduction stage, they can be territorial.
In general they lay two white eggs that the female incubates alone. The young are precocial and are born with the instinct to immediately climb and take refuge in the nesting tree. They are able to fly within a few days of hatching.
The song of the guacharaca culirroja
Many Guacharaca specimens They make extremely loud sounds. They have a very enlarged trachea that guarantees that your calls can be heard more than 1 kilometer away.
Usually, the flocks of guacharacas make very loud sounds in chorus. In their songs they dominate a multitude of cacareo, shouts and squawking.
Conservation status of the guacharaca culirroja
Traditionally, the cracid family has been hunted in the rural villages of the Neotropics, due to its larger size than other forest birds. On the other hand, The increasing deforestation of its habitat also influences the accelerated decline of local cracid populations throughout Latin America.
One factor that can favor action for the conservation of this species is that it is becoming an important species for the ecotourism industry.