I think we are somehow cursed. Maybe that love of all things Halloween has finally overwhelmed my good karma or maybe it is all just a coincidence that bad weather tends stick to us like nettles on shoestrings. Regardless of the reason, we have once again brought a weather plague on the inhabitants of our exploration destination. On our southern Texas adventure we managed to bring unusually cold temps and rain to the natives and to further add in insult, managed to vacate the area just before the epic snow and ice storm hit them (please accept our apologies). Today we reached a primary destination and sure enough they are basically flooding out. Is it asking too much to have some “plain” weather !?!
Ummmm, there you go Mother Nature, jinxing me again clearly I requested plain WEATHER and what do I get.. a Plain Chachalaca. Unless this is a play on raining cats and birds, we are not properly communicating. Might as well go with it as the birding is currently at a standstill until this downpour lets up. As we are past the older post days, going with something fresh.
Hit the jump to see a few more shots of our featured bird.
The odd looking creature before you comes to you courtesy of our January trip down to the Texas Gulf Coast and then into the Lower Rio Grande Valley. This Plain Chachalaca was found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in Misson. Not a new bird to the blog as these rather intriguing looking birds where featured back in September 2019 (link here). That shoot was from nearby Valley Nature Center in Weslaco.
From a States perspective, these are pretty rare as they really only come as far north as the southern tip of Texas. The rest of their year-round region rests in Central America. However, if you can make your way to the tip of Texas, you should have no issues with getting at least one of them in the tin.
In fact, it is actually more difficult to ONLY get one of them in the tin as they like to hang in groups – that way it is easier to shake down the local Warblers for their lunch money. As I am not sure what they actually buy with the unearned money, it must be purely for sport and intimidation.
These two were busy scouting for new victims. Eventually they spotted me taking their picture from behind a nearby tree. Hell, I almost gave them MY wallet based on the evil looks they cast my way.
As mentioned above, as long as you make it to the key birding hotspots along the Rio Grande you should be able to tin ’em. Nature Valley Center, Estero Llano Grande SP and Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley SP are excellent places to see them. Pretty sure there are many other places in that area, but I can definitely vouch for those. You will probably hear them long before you see their large bodies pushing through the underbrush or climbing through the brush.
Or you could do what Linda and I did at Bentsen and just take a pleasant stroll to the entrance of Bentsen park and take a seat on their comfy swinging bench in front of feeder station #1. Simply sit back, relax and let the show begin!
Apparently these Chachas like their suet or peanut butter – unfortunately, didn’t ask the volunteer stationed there what their food recipe was and figured if I went over there and tried to verify for myself those damn Chachas would de-pants me and run them up the feeder pole for all to see. The one above gave me a formal glaring having suspected what I was considering.
Hmmm, out of shots and about all I told you about them is they are BB’s (bird bullies). They get their names from their obnoxious calls which sound like Cha Cha Lac. Which also answers the often-asked question on how you pronounce their names. Cornell does mention that these birds will ratchet up their calls to alert to changing weathers. Clearly based on their squawking, they were trying to warn us to get home before the snow and ice completely shut down the region. A kind act, but don’t let them full you .. still lunch room bullies!
Take care folks, time for me to rent a boat to get out of this RV spot.