We take the clownish Chachalacas for granted, but this time of year, with visitors coming to the area for the first time, there is curiosity about these birds that hang out like pets in the anacua trees near the Visitors’ Center.  The Plain Chachalaca (family Cracidae) is found in Eastern Mexico, but fairly limited in the U.S. to parts of just four counties in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.  Lately, the last of this year’s Chachalaca are hatching and soon we will no longer find the large white eggs that have plopped out of the loosely formed nests above the driveway.   The nests are shallow, and a good wind leaves the egg on the leaf bed below, usually with its tough shell intact but the egg abandoned.   The two or three chicks that hatch are out of the nest and running along tree limbs in 24 hours, flying in 3 or 4 days.  They gather near the water feature at Frontera this time of year with a mid-morning foray to the feeding station, eating mostly berries and nuts and an occasional frog at the waters edge.  You know you’re at Frontera when you’re greeted by a raucous call!

Rich Deen captured this image of a chacha chick at Frontera.


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