What’s for Dinner?

The Northern Crested Caracara is of the family Falconidae, subspecies Polyborinae or Caracarinae depending on the source. In Latin it is known as Polyborus (eats almost anything) plancus (eagle). But it is also known as the Caracara Cheriway, Audubon’s Caracara or the Mexican Eagle. Five genera are recognized and most are listed as threatened. Classified as a falcon, the Caracara is quite an unusual bird. A beautiful bird in a palette of black, white and a yellow that blends to orange or red, it seems to straddle the families of falcon, vulture and well…chicken. Once identified, it is impossible to mistake the Caracara’s striking silhouette, either at rest or in flight. At rest, the Caracara is obviously a powerful raptor; very long of leg, powerful talons, a distinctive beak and bushy crest. In flight; the long neck and tail in combination with the broad wings give it the appearance of a “flying cross”. Considered a medium sized raptor, the Caracara in 19 to 23 inches in length and weighs 1 ¾ to 3 ½ pounds. The wingspan is approximately 48 inches. On average they are heavier than a Red Shouldered Hawk, but slightly smaller than Red Tailed Hawk. At maturity, the cere (a fleshy area along the top of the beak) is usually red or dark orange. When excited this area takes on a distinctively yellow coloration.  The cere also give indication of the bird’s maturity and sexual readiness. The Caracara is a slow hunting raptor that prefers an easy meal of fresh carrion, but is just as satisfied with large insects, reptiles, amphibians, fish, birds and mammals. It is often seen walking along the ground or wading in shallow water looking for prey. Believed to [...]