|The chachalacas, guans and curassows are birds in the family
These are species of tropical and subtropical Central and South
America. One species, the Plain Chachalaca, just
reaches southernmost Texas in the USA. Two species, the Trinidad
Piping Guan and the Rufous-vented Chachalaca
occur on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago respectively.
Cracids are large birds, similar in general appearance to turkeys.
The guans and curassows live in trees, but the
smaller chachalacas are found in more open scrubby habitats.
Many species are fairly long tailed, which may be an
aide to navigating their largely arboreal existence. They are
generally dull-plumaged, but the curassows and some
guans have colourful facial ornaments. The birds are particular
vocal, with the chachalacas taking their name from the
sound of their call. Cracids range in size from the Little Chachalaca,
Ortalis motmot, at as little as 38 cm and 350 g,
to the Great Curassow (Crax rubra), at nearly 1 m and 4.3 kg.
These species feed on fruit, insects and worms. They build nests
in trees, and lay two to three large white eggs, which
only the female incubates alone. The young are precocial and
are born with an instinct to immediately climb and seek
refuge in the nesting tree. They are able to fly within days
Highland Guan, Penelopina nigra
Black Guan, Chamaepetes unicolor
Sickle-winged Guan, Chamaepetes goudotii
Wattled Guan, Aburria aburri
(4 species, the Piping Guans)
Genus Ortalis - Chachalacas (12 species)
|West Mexican Chachalaca
Genus Oreophasis, Horned Guan
Subfamily Cracinae, Curassows
Nocturnal Curassow, Nothocrax urumutum
Genus Crax (7 species)
Crestless Curassow, Mitu tomentosum
Salvin's Curassow, Mitu salvini
Razor-billed Curassow, Mitu tuberosum
Alagoas Curassow, Mitu mitu (extinct in
Genus Pauxi, Helmeted curassows (2 species)
|Penelope is a bird genus in
the Cracidae family consisting of a number of large turkey-like
arboreal species, the typical
guans. The range of these species is in forests from southern
Mexico to tropical South America. These largish birds
have predominately brown plumage and have relatively small heads
in comparison with body size; they also bear a
characteristic dewlap. Body lengths are typically 65 to 95 centimeters.
Most of the genus members have a typically raucous honking call.
A number of the genus members are endangered
species and at least one is critically endangered, usually due
to tropical deforestation and hunting. In the case of several
species the estimated populations are as low as a few 1000 mature
birds, spread over a considerable area.
Because of the scarcity of many of the genus members and also
due to the habitat being often in deep or high altitude
forests, little is known about some of the species habits and
reproduction; in fact, some species are found at altitudes
up to 3350 meters. Nests are typically built of twigs in trees.