Crested Caracara

About the Crested Caracara
Also known as: Northern Caracara, Northern Crested Caracara, Audubon's Caracara, Mexican Butterball, Mexican Eagle
Crested Caracara

Related to falcons but acting like a vulture, the Crested Caracara is a unique bird of prey found in northern South America, through Central America, and in Arizona, Texas and Florida in the United States. This species is also known as the Northern Caracara.

Adult Crested Caracaras have dark bodies and a toupee-like crown and crest of black. The neck is white with barring down the breast. They have thick grey beaks with facial skin ranging from yellow to reddish-orange.

Crested Caracaras are scavengers, feeding mostly on carrion. They also take live prey and will hunt on foot, which is rare for a bird of prey. They can be found associating with vultures at feeding locations and while roosting.

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Details & Statistics


The Crested Caracara is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List and was last assessed in 2012 by BirdLife International. This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

International Names

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