Audabon’s Caracara

The Caracara, which is also called the Mexican Eagle, is Mexico’s national bird.

They have long necks, quite large head and both are white, with bare skin on the face, which shines brighter red.

The Caracara is brown/black in color, unless they are not yet mature, in which case they are buff colored, and sport some streaks and spots.

The Crested Caracara is Mexicos National Bird
The Crested Caracara is Mexicos National Bird

When in full flight they have white patches at the ends of each wing which will show clearly. Both male and female are quite similar in color but the females are slightly larger than the male.
They have no real natural predators who prey on them for food, but since they spend a great deal of time on the ground they are sometimes preyed upon by man. They will make a heinous noise, like a shriek, when they feel threatened, throw their heads back in the air and then snap them forward in a way that makes you fear for their necks. Their facial skin color may change from red to yellow when excited or threatened. They make a sound that is very harsh, and sounds like the caracara that gives them their name.

When mating the same head rolling and rattling are also things the male does to attract a mate. While most members of the falcon species will build their nests lower to get a good view of the surrounding area.

The Nest of the Caracara is very deep and stout in construction. Many layers are used, and a new layer is added each year.. In many cases they will reuse the nest year after year. The female will lay two or three eggs and the male helps to warm and incubate them during the 28 days it takes them to hatch. The adults eat mainly carrion however they kill and bring fresh meat to their young, who remain in the nest for about three months prior to learning to fly..

Caracaras mainly feed on carrion but also hunt small animals and insects.

They will fly the highways nearly every morning to take animals that traffic has killed during the night and keep pace with vultures to rob them of their prey by harassment.

One strange behavior they do have is that they will attack brown pelicans returning to nest with food for their young, forcing them to disgorge what they’ve caught and then stealing it. They will also watch for turtles laying eggs and dig those up, taking them as well..

They may observe turtles laying eggs, and dig them up from the ground.

Caracaras will scratch like chickens for worms and insects, and hunt small animals such as skunks, prairie dogs, opossums, rats squirrels, frogs, crabs and even young alligators.

Although not specifically endangered in most of their range, in the US, all birds of prey are protected.

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