The crested caracara is the largest and most widespread of the large group of land falcons known as caracaras. There are 8 different species. They are genetically linked to falcons, although their appearance and behaviour make them more comparable to crows, while their opportunistic nature and taste for carrion liken them to vultures.
Crested caracaras are found in Central America and South America.
Caracaras stand tall on long legs and are formidable walkers, who scour the roadside looking for dead animals or turning over stones to uncover insects and reptiles. They are also successful at hunting rodents and are like pirates, never reluctant to harass other raptors in an effort to steal their prey. They are colourful, noisy and crafty and usually live in couples, or groups when juveniles are present, making it easier for them to find food. These strong walkers are also excellent at gliding and are powerful and dynamic in flight.
Grassland, savannah and pampas
Small mammals, insects, birds, fish and carrion.
The name caracara comes from the cackle-like call (karaka-raa) it emits when putting on its seductive displays.