Ortalis erythroptera 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Galliformes Cracidae

Scientific Name: Ortalis erythroptera Sclater & Salvin, 1870
Common Name(s):
English Rufous-headed Chachalaca, Rufous Headed Chachalaca
Taxonomic Source(s): SACC. 2005 and updates. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #
Identification information: 56-66 cm. Small, brownish, arboreal cracid. Rufous head and neck, brown upperparts, rufous primaries and tips to outer rectrices, belly becoming whitish, red dewlap. Voice Song repeated, raucous kwak-ar-ar, cha-cha-kaw or shriller kra-kra-ka phrases; alarm calls guan-like honking and yelping calls.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable B1ab(i,ii,iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Coopmans, P., Díaz Montes, V.R., Freile, J., Hornbuckle, J., Horstman, E., Keane, A., Mena-Valenzuela, P. & Angulo Pratolongo, F.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Jahn, O., Benstead, P., Symes, A., Sharpe, C.J., Khwaja, N., Symes, A.
This species has a small and contracting range, affected by rapid habitat loss and severe fragmentation. Its population is suspected to be small and declining, owing to the effects of hunting and habitat destruction. This combination of factors results in classification as Vulnerable.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Ortalis erythroptera is largely confined to the Tumbesian region of west Ecuador, in Esmeraldas, Manabí, Guayas, Los Ríos, Chimborazo, Azuay (P. Coopmans in litt. 1998), El Oro and Loja; extreme north-west Peru, in Tumbes and Piura (Barrio and Begazo 1998), and extreme south-west Colombia, in Nariño (Strewe 2001). In the last decade, a new population was discovered in humid and wet areas of eastern Esmeraldas, mostly along the major river systems where forest cover is severely fragmented (O. Jahn in litt. 2007, P. Mena Valenzuela in litt. 2007). At this moment, it is unclear whether this population was previously overlooked or if it represents a recent expansion of the species's range. Although it is possible that the chachalaca temporarily benefits from forest fragmentation in that area, deforestation rates in Esmeraldas are so high that almost total deforestation might occur within one or two decades (O. Jahn in litt. 2007, P. Mena Valenzuela in litt. 2007).

Countries occurrence:
Colombia; Ecuador; Peru
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:19400
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):YesExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:11-100Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):1850
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:A new population has been discovered in eastern Esmeraldas, Ecuador, which, judging by the area of potentially available habitat, may hold one of the world's largest subpopulations. However, population densities are usually low, and the population there is currently estimated at only 500-1,000 birds (O. Jahn in litt. 2007, P. Mena Valenzuela in litt. 2007). Its historical range to the south is now extremely fragmented, with viable populations restricted to only a few locations and probably maintaining less than 5,000 individuals. The population is thought to be best placed in the band 2,500-9,999 individuals, based on density estimates and the species's Extent of Occurrence. This equates to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals.

Trend Justification:  A moderate and on-going population decline is suspected on the basis of continued habitat destruction and fragmentation.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:1500-7000Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:Yes
No. of subpopulations:2-100Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It inhabits dry, deciduous woodland, lowland riparian forest, humid lowland forest, lower montane cloud-forest, forest edge, degraded forest habitats, scrub, and occasionally agricultural land at elevations up to 1,850 m, although there are few recent Peruvian records below 1,000 m (Pople et al. 1997, Barrio and Begazo 1998, Isherwood and Willis 1998, Strewe 2001). It has been observed eating leaves, coffee berries and banana fruits (Isherwood and Willis 1998, Barrio and Díaz 2006). The species is supposedly monogamous and breeding probably occurs during the wet season (between December and May). Clutch sizes average three chicks (Barrio and Díaz 2006).

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):5.7
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): In west Ecuador, forest cover below 900 m was reduced from 63% (of 1938 cover) in 1958, to less than 8% in 1988 (Dodson and Gentry 1991). In higher parts of its range, deforestation has been slower, and a greater proportion of forest remains (Best and Kessler 1995, J. Hornbuckle in litt. 1999). In Esmeraldas, annual deforestation rates of lowland evergreen forest were 3.8% and accumulated loss of primary forest 38% in the last decade (Cárdenas 2007). The Mache-Chindul Ecological Reserve is increasingly affected by illegal logging, hunting, and other activities (O. Jahn in litt. 2007). Colonisation and land development are progressing through infrastructural improvement, particularly the expansion of road networks, and in turn are increasing the impact of logging, cattle-ranching, oil palm planting, and in drier areas also understorey-grazing by goats and cattle (Best and Kessler 1995, Jahn in press, O. Jahn in litt. 2007). Continuing habitat loss will soon remove almost all remaining unprotected forest if effective action is not taken urgently (Best and Kessler 1995, Jahn in press, O. Jahn in litt. 2007, P. Mena Valenzuela in litt. 2007). Degradation of forest fragments through intensive grazing perhaps explains the paucity of recent records at low elevations in Peru. It is hunted in Ecuador and Peru, even within designated protected areas in the latter (Barrio and Begazo 1998, F. Angulo Pratolongo in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
Significant populations occur in Machalilla National Park (Guayas/Manabí) and the Northwest Peru Biosphere Reserve (Tumbes and Piura), but these are affected by illegal settling, hunting, livestock-grazing and habitat clearance (Parker and Carr 1992). Several other protected areas in Ecuador hold populations (Parker and Carr 1992, Best and Kessler 1995, Pople et al. 1997, Barrio and Begazo 1998, Isherwood and Willis 1998, J. F. Freile in litt. 2000), and it may occur in the lower parts of the Mache-Chindul Ecological Reserve (O. Jahn in litt. 2007) and the large Chongón-Colonche Protection Forest, which is the nucleus of a reforestation project (E. Horstman in litt. 2000). A breeding programme is being carried out by Crax Peru at a breeding centre in Olmos (V. R. Díaz Montes in litt. 2007).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor populations. Research and manage limiting factors. Conduct research into its biology (Strahl et al. 1994). Map the forest patches of the Cordillera Chongón-Colonche to identify further sites for protection (E. Horstman in litt. 2000). Improve the effectiveness of protected areas in west Ecuador (Parker and Carr 1992). Designate the Awá Reserve, Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve, Awacachi corridor, Gran Reserva Chachi, and Canandé Reserve, including the río Santiago, Cayapas, Onzole, and Hoja Blanca drainages, as a biosphere reserve (Jahn in press, O. Jahn in litt. 2007). Consolidate protection of the Mache-Chindul Ecological Reserve through law enforcement against illegal logging, hunting, and colonisation inside the reserves and sustainable management projects in its buffer zone (O. Jahn in litt. 2007). Increase effective protection (improving capacity and infrastructure) throughout the Northwestern Peru Biosphere Reserve (encompassing Amotapes National Park and El Angolo Hunting Reserve). Reintroduce the species at suitable sites (F. Angulo Pratolongo in litt. 2012). Initiate an education programme for communities adjoining Northwestern Peru Biosphere Reserve. Continue the captive breeding programme (V. R. Díaz Montes in litt. 2007).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Ortalis erythroptera. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22678318A92767436. . Downloaded on 15 August 2018.
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