Family Guans, Chachalacas, Curassows (Cracidae)

Least Concern

West Mexican Chachalaca (Ortalis poliocephala)


French: Ortalide de Wagler German: Graubrustguan Spanish: Chachalaca pechigrís

Penelope poliocephala


, 1830,



Closely related to O. wagleri (which see), and formerly considered conspecific; a few cases of hybridization in NW Jalisco (intermediates were even considered a different race, lajuelae), but evidence insufficient to warrant conspecific treatment#R. Formerly considered a race of O. vetula. In S, range meets those of O. leucogastra and O. vetula, perhaps with slight overlap; no hybridization known. Monotypic.


W Mexico from C & NE Jalisco and Colima E to W Puebla and S to SW Chiapas.

Descriptive notes

62–67 cm; mean c. 760 g. One of largest Ortalis. Plumage above generally rather grey, with shorter, less pointed crown feathers than O. wagleri; bare-... read more


Song similar to that of O. wagleri, a gruff, throaty, rhythmic chattering “chur-uh-... read more


Mainly arid subtropical scrub and tropical deciduous forests, with rather narrow humidity limits,... read more

Food and feeding

Diet based on plant matter, represented by leaves, seeds, flowers and fruits. In one study in Jalisco, plant matter, from 15 different... read more


Season Apr–Aug with peak in Jun–Jul; perhaps generally later in lowlands, e.g. in SE Oaxaca but also in Jalisco. Nest a shallow... read more


No information available; presumably sedentary.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Still common in much of range, and locally very common, e.g. in Sierra Madre del Sur, Guerreo, despite rapid habitat clearance in... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). West Mexican Chachalaca (Ortalis poliocephala). 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 January 2019).