Southern Caracara Caracara plancus

(aka Crested Caracara, Southern Crested-Caracara Polyborus plancus but see HBW, Volume 2, Pages 219-220 and Northern Caracara Caracara cheriway

Brazilian name: caracará

Chilean name: carancho
Southern Caracara, Pantanal, Mato Grosso, Brazil, December 2006 - click for larger image The Southern Caracara can look a bit like a large chicken from a distance as it struts along the ground and frequently feeds there. It has long yellow legs and a bushy black crest. It also has a red cere which apparently turns yellow, as in the second photo, when the bird is excited. In flight from below it shows conspicuous white patches on its outer primaries.

It is found in open and semi-open country from south of the Amazon River to the southern tip of South America.

It feeds mainly on carrion and is often seen at road kills where it is dominant over single Turkey Vultures and Black Vultures. It also feeds on live prey such as baby caiman and Roseate Spoonbill chicks.

Southern Caracara, Parati, Rio deJaneiro, Brazil, August 2002 - click for larger image

There are recordings and a distribution map on xeno-canto .

Southern Caracara, Pantanal, Mato Grosso, Brazil, December 2006 - click for larger image
Southern Caracara, Caulin, Chiloe, Chile, November 2005 - click for larger image
Southern Caracara, Torres del Paine, Chile, December 2005 - click for larger image
Juvenile Southern Caracara, Nahuelbuta NP, Chile, November 2005 - click for larger image
Juvenile Southern Caracara, Pantanal, Mato Grosso, Brazil, December 2006 - click for larger image
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