A tropical falcon version of a vulture, the Crested CaraCara reaches the United States only in Arizona, Texas, and Florida. It is a bird of open country, where it often is seen at carrion with vultures.
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- A common subject of folklore and legends throughout Central and South America, the Crested Caracara is sometimes referred to as the “Mexican eagle.”
- Although it looks like a long-legged hawk and associates with vultures, the Crested Caracara is actually in the same family as falcons.
- The oldest recorded Crested Caracara was at least 21 years, 9 months old when it was observed in the wild in 2015 in Florida and identified by it’s band. It had been banded in the same state in 1994.
Habitat: Open country, including pastureland, cultivated areas and semi-desert, both arid and moist habitats but more commonly in the former.
Food: Insects; small and occasionally large vertebrates, including fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals; eggs; and carrion of all types.
Nest Placement: Trees
Conservation: Crested Caracara populations increased between 1966 and 2015, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 2 million, with 5% living in the U.S., and 28% in Mexico. The species rates an 8 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Crested Caracara is not on the 2016 State of North America’s Birds’ Watch List. The recent U.S. increase in populations is a turnaround from historical declines. A subspecies, the Audubon’s Crested Caracara in central Florida, is federally listed as threatened.