The Southern Crested Caracara (Caracara planacus) is a large bird of prey and a raptor in the Falconidae family of falcons. It is a falconid.
The Southern Crested Caracara has dark-brownish cap, belly, wings, and tail tip. Its throat and the back of its neck are whitish-buff, with dark-brownish bars on its chest, neck, back, and tail. It has large brown eyes with a reddish-orange eye-ring. Its cere is reddish-orange and its beak is beige and hooked. Its legs are yellow.
It grows to 50-65 centimetres (20-26 inches) tall, with a wingspan of 120-132 centimetres (47-52 inches). It is the second largest species of falcon in the world, after the Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus).
It is native to central and southern South America from Tierra del Fuego to the Amazon River region and southern Peru. It prefers open or semi-open habitats, except the highlands and dense humid forests.
It is a scavenger. It mainly feeds on the carcasses (bodies) of dead animals. It is a fast flier and can reach speeds of about 60 kilometres per hour (37 miles per hour).
The Southern Crested Caracara is usually solitary, but it can be seen feeding in small groups.
It makes a nest on the ground or high on a cliff ledge. The nest is made of twigs and vegetation, lined with wool or grass. The female lays 2 eggs, which hatch after 30 days. The chicks take about 5 years to reach their full adult colouring.
The Southern Crested Caracara is known to live for about 30 years.
[Location of photographs: Berlin Zoo, Germany]
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM