Family Guans, Chachalacas, Curassows (Cracidae)


Rufous-headed Chachalaca (Ortalis erythroptera)


French: Ortalide à tête rousse German: Rotkopfguan Spanish: Chachalaca cabecirrufa

Ortalida erythroptera

P. L. Sclater and Salvin

, 1870,

Babahoyo and Guayaquil, western Ecuador




Fragmented populations in W Ecuador (from Esmeraldas S to El Oro and Loja) and extreme NW Peru (Tumbes and Piura, perhaps Cajamarca); recently confirmed#R as occurring in SW Colombia (Nariño).

Descriptive notes

56–66 cm; 620–645 g. Similar to O. garrula, but tail tips rufous/chestnut and lower breast and abdomen more creamy. Iris brown, facial skin dark bluish... read more


Regularly vocalizes in early morning, sometimes from well before dawn (like other Ortalis... read more


Dry deciduous forest and humid cloudforest, occasionally on agricultural land, in tropical coastal... read more

Food and feeding

Diet known to contain only fruit. Birds have been observed pecking leaves of cloudforest trees, and one bird had leaves in its stomach;... read more


In NW Peru silent, and probably not breeding, during dry season (Jun–Jul); suspected to breed there around Feb, when more vocal and... read more


No information available, but presumably sedentary.

Status and conservation

VULNERABLE. Previously considered Near Threatened. Overall population speculated to number no more than 10,000 birds. Has suffered range contraction which appears to be... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Rufous-headed Chachalaca (Ortalis erythroptera). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 20 February 2020).