Northern Caracara

Caracara cheriway


Quick Facts

Crested Caracara

Found: Mexico to the north part of South America, only found in the U.S. in Arizona, Texas, and Florida
Size: 3 to 4 feet wingspan
Weight: 2 to 3 pounds
Diet: Insects, small animals, carrion
Status: Common, but Threatened in Florida


Although the caracara may look like a hawk and eat like a vulture, it is actually in the falcon family. Caracaras are opportunistic feeders. Caracaras will scratch at the ground to dig up insects, stalk around a pond to find frogs and turtles, sit on fence posts near roads to scan for road kill, or fly above to keep an eye out for the occasional larger prey such as a rabbit.

The caracara was at one time much more widely dispersed throughout Florida than it is now. Ideal habitat for the caracara is prairie lands, but this is also ideal habitat for developers to build housing developments or for growers to plant orange groves. Habitat loss still remains the main threat to caracaras.

In Mexico, the national bird is the golden eagle, although many believe that the caracara is the bird actually depicted on the flag of Mexico. It is thought that the caracara was the subject of Aztec folklore, which is why the bird is so well known and celebrated in Mexico today.

Northern Caracara   Bald eagle   Northern Caracara