The Aviary

Crested Caracara

Crested caracara (Caracara cheriway ), is a medium-sized falcon with a long tail and broad wings. It is about 22 inches long with a 4 foot Crested Caracarawingspan. The sexes are similar. The bird is mostly black with a black cap that is crested at the end. The face is red, the beak hooked and gray. The throat and neck and base of the tail are white. There are white patches near the wing tips.

The caracara behaves like a scavenger, feeding alongside vultures. The diet is primarily carrion but it will also take reptiles and birds. The voice is a hoarse cackle.

These birds are found in open country such as prairies, savannas, desert scrub and seashores.

The nest is made of twigs, sometimes lined and sometimes not. The nest is placed in trees in open countryside. There are two or three white, pink or buff colored eggs with brown blotches. The incubation period is 28 days. Days to fledge is from one to two months. There is generally one brood but there can be two.

Range is southern U.S. including southern Arizona, southern Texas, southwestern Louisiana, southern Florida, into Mexico and south to Peru and upper South America. This is the national bird of Mexico.

Order: Falconiformes | Family: Falconidae | Subfamily: Caracarinae
Species: Caracara plancus or cheriway

photo courtesy George Jameson