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 wingspan. 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
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.