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Guans Curassows and Chachalacas: Cracidae

Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Plain Chachalaca (ortalis Vetula): Species Accounts, Black Guan (chamaepetes Unicolor): Species AccountsGEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, GUANS CURASSOWS CH

BLACK GUAN (Chamaepetes unicolor): SPECIES ACCOUNTS

These birds are found in south Texas through tropical South America as far as central Argentina. United States is home to only one species, whereas Colombia and Brazil harbor twenty-four and twenty-two species, respectively.

Cracids live in tropical forest regions, plantations, and forested areas where there is a second, lighter growth of vegetation. Although most species prefer the warmth of lowlands, some do live in mountain forests of altitudes above 9,800 feet (3,000 meters).

Though mainly plant eaters, cracids also feed on insects and other small animals. They enjoy berries and small fruits whole, but will bite into bigger fruit such as guavas and mangoes. They also eat seeds, soft leaves, and buds. Unlike other Galliformes, cracids won't scratch the forest floor for their food.

Hunters in Latin America value cracids as a rich protein source. However, because the reproduction rate of cracids is so slow, the population cannot withstand intensive hunting pressure. Cracids are greatly affected by habitat destruction. Native tribes use tail and wing feathers for ornamentation.

Cracids are more threatened than any other bird family in the Americas. Twenty-three of the fifty species are threatened with extinction, or close to being threatened with extinction, including 64 percent of curassows (nine species) and 16 percent of the chachalacas (two species). About 50 percent of guans are threatened (twelve species). Primary threats are overhunting and habitat loss.

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Animal Life ResourceBirds