Family Guans, Chachalacas, Curassows (Cracidae)

Least Concern

Scaled Chachalaca (Ortalis squamata)


French: Ortalide écaillée German: Schuppenguan Spanish: Chachalaca escamosa

Ortalida squamata


, 1829,

Santa Catarina, Brazil


Previously treated as a race of O. vetula or of an expanded O. motmot or, more recently, of O. guttata. Differs from O. guttata in much less chestnut-rufous undertail with more grey-black at base of feathers (3); more rufous-toned rump (2); and brown-shaded vs blackish crown (2); also some vocal differences. Differs from O. araucuan in its dull brown crown, almost continuous with rest of upperparts vs dull rufous crown and rear head-sides (2); absence of arrowhead-shaped, pale-tipped feathers on rear crown, neck-sides and upper throat (3); buffy-brown vs white to whitish belly (3); chestnut vs ochraceous vent (ns[2]). Birds of SE Mato Grosso have been ascribed race remota, but apparently very similar or identical to those in rest of range. Monotypic.


SE Brazil (SE Mato Grosso do Sul and S São Paulo to Rio Grande do Sul); perhaps SE Paraguay.

Descriptive notes

c. 50 cm; one male c. 620 g, one female 498 g. Predominantly brown-looking cracid. Has dull brown crown and nape almost continuous with upperparts; small, red bare throat... read more


Song in S Brazil described as a raucous, very noisy but highly variable “racket”, given in duet, “... read more


Edges of tropical lowland evergreen forest; occurs mainly from sea-level to 800 m.

Food and feeding

Few data available. Diet mostly fruits and leaves. Will visit birdfeeders at lodges to forage on bananas; attracted also to suburban... read more


Birds in breeding condition in Oct and Nov, adult with well-grown chicks in Santa Catarina in late Dec, Jan and Mar, and nest with eggs in... read more


Presumably sedentary.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Global population not quantified, but probably not small enough to cause any immediate concern. Appears to be very locally fairly... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2018). Scaled Chachalaca (Ortalis squamata). 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 December 2018).