Chachalacas at the feeder

Gray-headed chachalacas at the guayabo feeder

Gray-headed chachalacas at the guayabo feeder

The Grey-headed chachalaca group, about a dozen in number, is a fairly permanent fixture here in the neighbourhood.  They may disappear occasionally for a few days, but, come rain or shine, they never seem to be far away.  They are always in a flock together, and I’m sure that an individual bird would pine away in solitary confinement in a cage.

Their visits to the feeder yesterday and today were the first I’ve observed, however.  The speed with which they devoured the bananas was pretty impressive and makes me think that they’ve probably been here before when I wasn’t looking.

There are no identification problems such as those met in Mexico, where range overlaps between species can cause problems.  I don’t have to worry about Plain chachalacas invading from Guanacaste.  In any case, now I can get really good looks at them, with their red throats and what looks like a white disc on the belly.  They are top of the pecking order at the feeder because even the Montezuma oropendolas, hearty eaters themselves, wait in attendance when the chachalacas arrive.  They also forage on the ground under the guayabo picking up banana remnants.  The rufous primaries and white tail are prominent when they straggle from tree to tree, from guayabo to güititi.  Their most typical call note is a pleasant high whistle but, as Garrigues & Dean note in their indispensable guide, this Grey-headed species hasn’t learned to say its name.

It seems then that I’ll be able to look forward to seeing this new addition to the feeder list at closer quarters, but I’ll also have to peel a lot more bananas.

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