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Crested Caracara


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

Both Sexes
19.3–22.8 in
49–58 cm
47.2 in
120 cm
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.
  • The oldest recorded Crested Caracara was at least 21 years, 9 months old when it was observed in the wild in 2015 in Florida and identified by it's band. It had been banded in the same state in 1994.



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


Small Animals

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


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





status via IUCN

Least Concern

Crested Caracara populations increased between 1966 and 2015, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 2 million, with 5% living in the U.S., and 28% in Mexico. The species rates an 8 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Crested Caracara is not on the 2016 State of North America's Birds' Watch List. The recent U.S. increase in populations is a turnaround from historical declines. A subspecies, the Audubon’s Crested Caracara in central Florida, is federally listed as threatened.


Range Map Help

Crested Caracara Range Map
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