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Order Description


Order Description

This order has four families, around 70 genera and close to 260 species. In Georgia, there are three families and four species.

Members of this order are henlike with short bills, strong legs and well-developed tails. The wings are short and rounded. Though the wings are poorly adapted for sustained flight, their feet are relatively broad and heavy, well-adapted for scratching the ground and running. They generally feed on vegetable matter such as seeds, leaves, fruit and buds, although some invertebrates may be included. Some of the species have elaborate courtship rituals and exhibit spectacular sexual dimorphism. Most of the species build nests on the ground. Usually, many eggs are usually laid at a time and the young are precocial, able to feed themselves shortly after hatching. Some Asian members of this order, such as chickens, peafowl and guineafowl, have been domesticated for over 5,000 years.

Family Cracidae

Chachalacas have short, rounded wings and long tails. These birds are generally very vocal. Many have bare skin between their eyes and their bill, or on their throat. They nest in trees and lay white eggs.
Species in this family:
    Plain Chachalaca (Ortalis vetula)

Family Odontophoridae

This family contains the New World quails. These are small to medium sized game birds with short tails. They prefer open country and brushy areas. They lay approximately 12 eggs. These quails do not have leg spurs.
Species in this family:
    Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus)

Family Phasianidae

This family contains pheasants, turkeys, grouse and ptarmigans. Most species have spurs on the tarsus and the hind toe that faces backwards is elevated so that it does not touch the ground. Many members of this family have been domesticated. Turkeys were domesticated in parts of the Americas before AD 1492 and were brought to the Old World by colonists.
Species in this family:
    Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus)
    Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)