The Plain Chachalaca

The Plain Chachalaca isn’t exactly the flashiest of birds, but what pizazz it may lack in its plumage is more than made up for by the raucous call from which it gets its name.  Most often heard singing from treetops at dawn and dusk, its distinctive cha-cha-lac song has been scientifically categorized as “ear-splitting.”  When one bird begins to sing, the rest of the flock joins in until they form a rousing chorus that overwhelms any other forest noises, or your intentions of sleeping in.  The Chachalaca can fly and glide in short bursts, but prefers to run and jump confidently along tree branches where it also forages for leaves and seeds.  Seeking out only the tastiest morsels, this entertaining character will go so far as to hang precariously upside down to reach the ripest berries.  In Costa Rica, it is not uncommon to refer to someone as a Chachalaca, although as you can probably guess, this has little to do with his or her discerning taste in fruit.

Photo by Jorge Miguel Conejo Chaverri

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