Birda Logo
A photo of a Grey-headed Chachalaca (Ortalis cinereiceps)
Grey-headed Chachalaca

Grey-headed Chachalaca

Ortalis cinereiceps

The grey-headed chachalaca, Ortalis cinereiceps, is a medium-sized bird that bears a resemblance to turkeys, with its small head, robust legs, and an elongated, broad tail. Adults typically measure between 48 to 58 cm in length and weigh between 490 to 540 grams. Their plumage is rather understated, with grayish-brown tones dominating the upper parts and a paler hue below. A distinctive dark grey head is complemented by a red dewlap, while the blackish tail features a buff tip. The primary flight feathers exhibit a striking bright chestnut color. Juvenile birds present a more uniform brown coloration, particularly on the head.

Identification Tips

To identify the grey-headed chachalaca, look for its dark grey head and red dewlap, which are key distinguishing features. The chestnut primaries are also quite noticeable, especially in flight. The bird's overall dull plumage and robust body shape are characteristic of the species.


This species thrives in humid environments where dense vegetation is prevalent, such as thickets, secondary forests, brushy fields that have been abandoned, and forests that have been thinned. It tends to avoid the dense interiors of forests but may be found along their edges. Its habitat range extends from sea level up to 1,700 meters in elevation.


The grey-headed chachalaca is native to a region stretching from Mosquitia in eastern Honduras through eastern Nicaragua, across most of Costa Rica and Panama, and into Colombia's ChocΓ³ Department. It is also found on Isla del Rey in Panama, where it may have been introduced by indigenous peoples.


These birds are typically observed foraging in groups ranging from six to twelve individuals, but occasionally groups may swell to as many as twenty. They forage primarily in vegetation but will also search for food on the ground. During the dry season, they are known to frequent riversides for drinking in the mornings and evenings.

Song & calls

The grey-headed chachalaca is somewhat less vocal than some of its relatives. Its song can be described as a soft "cha-cha-lac-ah," while its flock calls are a raucous "kloik, kleeuk kraahk." Additionally, it emits a variety of screams, sharp alarm calls, and a subdued purring sound.


The breeding season for the grey-headed chachalaca coincides with the dry season, typically spanning from January to May. The female constructs a broad, shallow nest from twigs and vines, usually situated 1 to 2.4 meters above the ground and often concealed by vines. She lays three dull white eggs and is solely responsible for their incubation.

Similar Species

There are no similar species mentioned in the provided content.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the grey-headed chachalaca is predominantly fruit-based, constituting about 75% of its intake. Leaves make up around 17%, and invertebrates about 8%. The bird's foraging habits are adapted to its varied diet.

Conservation status

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the grey-headed chachalaca as Least Concern. While it is considered fairly common to common throughout its range, in some areas, populations have been significantly impacted by hunting. Nonetheless, the species shows a good degree of adaptability to certain types of habitat disturbance.

App logo
Birda is a birdwatching app and community aimed at curious people who want to deepen their connection with nature.

Grey-headed Chachalacas on Birda


More Chachalacas, Curassows, Guans

Birda Logo

Your birdwatching journey like never before

Connect with nature in minutes
Take a walk, look out of the window and log the birds that you see. Feel good about those little connections to nature.
Discover the joy of birding
Find new birding spots, see more birds, share and celebrate with a like-minded community of nature lovers.
Play your part in saving nature
Logging your birding sightings and sessions turns into positive action for our planet. Every sighting counts.

Birda Blog

What Our Birders Say
Ideal Birdwatch Companion
Simply adds to the enjoyment of my birdwatching and helps me record what I’ve seen.
Talli A
My favourite app
As a young birdwatcher who was always keen to be apart of a community but never seemed to find one, my problem was solved downloading this!!! Everyone is so friendly and just as excited to see birds as me 😁
Paul F
Very good database
Highly recommend. It great that this app shows you male Vs female variations when posting. Very good database I'm really impressed.
Carl B
Helped me to identify more birds
Love this app and has helped me to identify more birds. The challenges and badges are great for keeping the motivation going to get out and keep birding.
Alex J
Friendly and helps to identify birds
Great birding app, good for logging your sightings, also has nice species guide. I'm enjoying the social aspect more than I expected, everyone seems friendly and helps to identify unknown birds. Good mix of newbies and experienced users.
Patricia L
Very encouraging birding app
Easy to use, fun to see progress and encouraging to receive feedback from other users.
Great app for beginner twitchers
I’ve had a passion of photographing birds for a long time now but have only just gotten into proper birdwatching, and this app is brilliant for those just getting started. There is a great sense of community among users and the app is very easy to use and professional. Awesome app altogether
Great App
Great app to use for logging and communicating with others who are interested in birds
Dan R
Great app for bird fanatics
Great app for bird fanatics - very user friendly and a perfect place to share sightings.
Wonderful App
Birda is my go to app for keeping records of my bird sightings and sessions. It has fantastic information which is great at aiding identification. With all the updates that are coming in the new year, this app is something special.
As featured in
Connect with nature,
Find your flock
Download Birda - QR Code
Β© 2024 All rights reserved