Crested Caracara, the “curious falcon”

“The birds of prey peculiar to the South include kites, buteos, a falcon, and a curious falcon relative of vulturish appetites, the caracara…” — Peter Matthiessen, Wildlife in America. DSC_0194

It’s been a little while since I’ve seen one of the crested caracaras at Myakka River State Park. This one was perched beside the roadway last Friday, just outside the park, eying a turtle that had been hit by a car.

For a few minutes, it would fly down to eat, and then back to its perch before vehicles neared. DSC_0187

This boldly-patterned falcon stands out in flight.

This boldly-patterned falcon stands out in flight.

Unfortunately, this tropical falcon is drawn to carrion, like vultures, and thus is often in danger of being hit by cars. Crested caracaras are scavengers, feeding mostly on carrion. They also take live prey and will hunt on foot, which is rare for a bird of prey.

There are only about 250 nesting pairs of the the crested caracara in Florida. The species that lives year-round and nests in the state is called the Audubon caracara. Both the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service list the caracara as threatened.

1 Comment so far

  1. Jan on April 7th, 2014

    Very interesting! I’m quite sure I’ve never seen a crested caracara. Although, I wonder if it could be mistaken for a bald eagle from the back with those white tail feathers.

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