Family Guans, Chachalacas, Curassows (Cracidae)

Least Concern

Rufous-vented Chachalaca (Ortalis ruficauda)


French: Ortalide à ventre roux German: Rotschwanzguan Spanish: Chachalaca culirroja
Other common names: Rufous-tipped Chachalaca (ruficauda)

Ortalida ruficauda


, 1847,



Previously thought to meet O. garrula in N Colombia (Guajira), but no evidence of hybridization (speculation now appears to have been based on misidentified specimen of present species)#R. Race ruficrissa has been considered a separate species, but only constant difference is colour of tail tip (general coloration and size similar to nominate ruficauda, contra HBW); moreover, intergradation with ruficauda occurs N of Cúcuta, in N Colombia, and in hinterland of L Maracaibo, in Venezuela. Birds of latter area have been awarded different race, baliola. Population of Serranía de Macuira (Guajira Peninsula), in NE Colombia, has been separated as race lamprophonia; validity doubtful, but deserves further study. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • O. r. ruficrissa P. L. Sclater & Salvin, 1870 – N Colombia (from Santa Marta foothills E to Guajira) and NW Venezuela (NW Zulia).
  • O. r. ruficauda Jardine, 1847 – NE Colombia (Norte de Santander and N Arauca), N & NE Venezuela (including Margarita I) S to R Orinoco and E to Delta Amacuro, and Tobago; also Bequia I and Union I, in S Lesser Antilles (St Vincent and the Grenadines), where probably introduced from Tobago.
  • Descriptive notes

    53–61 cm; 430–800 g. Slate-grey head, becoming brown on upperparts with much darker tail. Facial skin slate-coloured. Greyish-buff belly becomes rufous on... read more


    Loudy noisy calls, like those of other chachalacas, apparently given in duets within groups, one... read more


    Thorny deciduous brushland and forest in fairly open areas, e.g. llanos of Venezuela and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Fruits, tender shoots and leaves: 29 species identified in Venezuelan study, of which most important were Guettarda divaricata (... read more


    Eggs in Jul in Colombia; year-round on Tobago, with peak Mar–Jul; probably mainly Feb–Sep in Venezuela, where downy young seen... read more


    No information available; presumably sedentary.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common in Colombia, especially on Guajira Peninsula. Widespread and generally abundant in Venezuela. Secure on Tobago, where declared... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Rufous-vented Chachalaca (Ortalis ruficauda). 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 18 January 2019).