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Guans Curassows and Chachalacas: Cracidae

Behavior And Reproduction

We don't know much about cracid life because they are such shy birds. They seem to live socially in small groups or flocks, and their nests are found in groups. They are vocal birds whose calls are loud and cacophonous (having an unpleasant sound). Some of the mountain forest-dwelling species migrate to lower altitudes during the colder months.


Aside from many species of cracids, thousands of other animals live in the tropical rainforests. In fact, half of all the known animals in the world today live in the rainforest. And we're always hearing about the importance of rainforest conservation. What makes the rainforest so special?

Rainforests are home to so many diverse species because these forests are the oldest living ecosystems on the planet. Having escaped the effects of the Ice Age, some rainforests have been around for one hundred million years! When the Ice Age wiped out other living systems, the rainforest continued to thrive, so every living organism within also kept reproducing and evolving. Today, some rainforest species number in the millions.

Though you won't find jungle cats or large animals in the rainforest, it is host to a mind-boggling fifty million species of invertebrates. On a single tree alone in Peru, one scientist found more than fifty different species of ants. Despite these impressive statistics, experts estimate that 137 species of life forms become extinct every day in the rainforests, mostly due to logging and cattle ranching.

Like any ecosystem, the rainforest inhabitants have developed so that they depend upon one another for survival. When one species is removed from the system, the effect is ripple-like, and virtually all other species must adapt. In addition to animal life, the rainforest is home to numerous plant species that we have only just begun to recognize as having medicinal use.

Cracids build their nests in trees or bushes. The nest is a flat platform, usually longer than it is wide and built from twigs, plant stems, leaves, grass, and other similar items. Some of the species are polygamous (puh-LIH-guh-mus; having several mates in one season), but no one is certain about the others. Curassow hens lay two eggs; chachalacas, three; and guans, three to four. Experts believe that only the female incubates (keeps warm before hatching) the eggs. Incubation periods vary from twenty-one to thirty-six days, depending on species.

Newborns are able to leave the nest very soon after birth. They are able to fly, hop, and walk along twigs when just a few days old. Cracids spend a great deal of time in the trees, hopping from branch to branch and walking on twigs. Cracids fall prey to jaguars and other big cats.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsGuans Curassows and Chachalacas: Cracidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Plain Chachalaca (ortalis Vetula): Species Accounts, Black Guan (chamaepetes Unicolor): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, GUANS CURASSOWS CH