One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A pheasantlike tree-dwelling bird of the guan family, with a loud harsh call. It is found mainly in the forests of tropical America.
Genus Ortalis, family Cracidae: several species, in particular the plain chachalaca (O. vetula)
- ‘The boughs of a gumbo-limbo tree drooped low with roosting chachalacas, dark, chicken-size birds renowned for their remarkable singing style.’
- ‘Birds easily encountered on the plateau near the falls include the little chachalaca and Guianan cock-of-the-rock, as well as honeycreepers, dacnises, and tanagers.’
- ‘Guans and perhaps chachalacas may be more arboreal than curassows.’
- ‘More likely to be seen or heard on the plateau is the little chachalaca, a gallinaceous bird named in part for its noisy call.’
- ‘Then came the chachalacas, the chickenlike birds we'd seen the previous day, whose call, I had been promised, I would never forget.’
Late 19th century: via South American Spanish from Nahuatl, of imitative origin.
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