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Crested Caracara

Caracara cheriway ORDER: FALCONIFORMES FAMILY: FALCONIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A tropical falcon version of a vulture, the Crested Caracara reaches the United States only in Arizona, Texas, and Florida. It is a bird of open country, where it often is seen at carrion with vultures.

At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
19.3–22.8 in
49–58 cm
Wingspan
47.2 in
120 cm
Weight
37–45.9 oz
1050–1300 g
Other Names
  • Audubon's Caracara
  • Caracara du Nord (French)
  • Carancho, Caraira, Quelele, Totache (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • A common subject of folklore and legends throughout Central and South America, the Crested Caracara is sometimes referred to as the "Mexican eagle."
  • Although it looks like a long-legged hawk and associates with vultures, the Crested Caracara is actually in the same family as falcons.

Habitat


Deserts

Open country, including pastureland, cultivated areas and semi-desert, both arid and moist habitats but more commonly in the former.

Food


Small Animals

Insects; small and occasionally large vertebrates, including fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals; eggs; and carrion of all types.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
1–4 eggs
Condition at Hatching
Helpless and covered in down.
Nest Placement

Tree

Behavior


Soaring

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Populations in United States have declined historically, but currently appear stable or slightly increasing. Classified as "threatened" in Florida. Common and widespread throughout Neotropics.

Credits

  • References Morrison, J. L. 1996. Crested Caracara (Caracara plancus). In The Birds of North America, No. 249 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Range Map Help

Crested Caracara Range Map
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