Northern Caracara

Caracara cheriway

The Northern Caracara, or Crested Caracara as it is properly known where it lives in the Americas, is a bird of prey in the family Falconidae. It was formerly considered conspecific with the Southern Caracara and the extinct Guadalupe Caracara as the "Crested Caracara". It has also been known as the Northern Crested Caracara and the Audubon's Caracara. As with its relatives, the Northern Caracara was formerly placed in the genus ''Polyborus''. Unlike the ''Falco'' falcons in the same family, the caracaras are not fast-flying aerial hunters, but are rather sluggish and often scavengers.
Caracara Headshot of a Caracara staring at the camera. Birds,Caracara,Caracara cheriway,Geotagged,Northern Caracara,The Netherlands,falcon

Appearance

The Northern Caracara has a length of 49–58 cm , a wingspan of 120 cm , and weighs 1,050–1,300 g . It is broad-winged and long-tailed. It also has long legs and frequently walks and runs on the ground. It is very cross-shaped in flight. The adult has a black body, wings, crest and crown. The neck, rump, and conspicuous wing patches are white, and the tail is white with black barring and a broad terminal band. The breast is white, finely barred with black. The bill is thick, grey and hooked, and the legs are yellow. The cere and facial skin are deep yellow to orange-red depending on age and mood. Sexes are similar, but immature birds browner, have a buff neck and throat, a pale breast streaked/mottled with brown, greyish-white legs and greyish or dull pinkish-purple facial skin and cere. The voice of this species is a low rattle.

Adults can be separated from the similar Southern Caracara by their less extensive and more spotty barring to the chest, more uniform blackish scapulars , and blackish lower back . Individuals showing intermediate features are known from the small area of contact in north-central Brazil, but intergradation between the two species is generally limited.
Crested Caracara couple, Uraba, Colombia These two seemed very intimate and attached to each other during the 10 minutes or so that we observed them. This species is an opportunistic ground dweller. It scavenges anything it can, kills injured or weak prey, and steals eggs and food from other birds, including larger ones. They often beat vultures to a scavenge scene and are aggressive enough to defend the prize. This bird is even reported to follow cars and trains to hope something edible falls of. 

In other words, this bird can thrive anywhere. It's intelligent, opportunistic, aggressive and not picky. Antioquia,Caracara cheriway,Colombia,Colombia Choco & Pacific region,Fall,Geotagged,Northern Caracara,South America,Uraba,Urabá,World

Distribution

The Northern Caracara is a resident in Cuba, northern South America and most of Central America and Mexico, just reaching the southernmost parts of the United States, including Florida, where it is resident but listed as threatened. There have been reports of the Crested Caracara as far north as San Francisco, California. and most recently near . South of the US border, it is generally common. This is a bird of open and semi-open country.
Northern Crested Unfortunately this guy was at a great distance and hidden in a tree. I could not get closer due to obstacles. First sighting for me. Caracara cheriway,Geotagged,Northern Caracara,United States,Winter

Behavior

The Northern Caracara is an omnivorous scavenger, favoring carrion, but will also eat small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish, crabs, insects, earthworms, and young birds. In addition to hunting its own food on the ground, the Northern Caracara will steal from other birds. Northern Caracaras build large stick nests in trees such as mesquites and palms, cacti, or on the ground as a last resort. It lays 2 to 3 pinkish-brown eggs with darker blotches, which are incubated for 28–32 days.

References:

Some text fragments are auto parsed from Wikipedia.

Status: Least concern
EX EW CR EN VU NT LC
Taxonomy
KingdomAnimalia
DivisionChordata
ClassAves
OrderFalconiformes
FamilyFalconidae
GenusCaracara
SpeciesC. cheriway