Crested Caracara

Scientific Name:
Caracara cheriway
Population Status:
Least Concern
Body Length:
19-23 inches
Wingspan:
4 feet
Weight:
1-1/2 to 3-1/2 pounds

Did you know?

  • Unlike other members of the falcon family that do not construct nests, the caracara builds a stick nest.
  • The caracara is the most terrestrial bird in the falcon group. It spends a great deal of time on the ground.

Where they live

Northern Crested Caracaras are found from the southern United States to Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. In the United States, they have been observed from Florida to California.

Why they need our help

The U.S. population is stable, although they are considered threatened in Florida due to loss of habitat by development and citrus orchards. They are common elsewhere and expanding their range into deforested areas.

What they eat

They usually feed on carrion of all kinds but will take advantage of any food opportunity by eating small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, turtles, fish, crab, eggs, insects, worms, and nestling birds. Caracaras hunt while walking on the ground or take food from other birds.

Nest, eggs and young

They build a large, bulky stick nest in a palm, cactus, or tree. The female lays 2-3 white and brown eggs that are incubated by both parents for 28-32 days. The young require up to 3 months before they fly as independent birds and the family stays together another 3 months.

Conservation Projects


Photos needed! If you are a photographer and would be willing to donate photos of a Crested Caracara for use on this site, please contact grin@peregrinefund.org

What makes a raptor a raptor?

Research Resources