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Caracara plancus

Southern Caracara

  • Order: Falconiformes
  • Family: Falconidae
  • Monotypic


Caracara plancus

Pantanal, Mato Grasso, Brazil; 12 December 2006 © Arthur Grosset

The Southern Caracara is a distinctive raptor that occurs widely in open areas of central and southern South America. It inhabits agricultural land, grasslands, marshes, and open forest primarily in lowlands from eastern Brazil and extreme southern Peru south to Tierra del Fuego and the Falkland Islands. It is dark brown overall with white on the face and neck becoming heavily barred with dark brown on the upper mantle and breast. The rump, undertail coverts, and tail base are also white, and there are white patches on the primaries that are visible in flight. This species closely resembles the allopatric Crested Caracara (C. cheriway), but has more barring on the chest and more pale color in the mantle and scapulars. It feeds on a large variety of items, but particularly carrion, reptiles, and arthropods. The large nest is constructed of sticks and positioned high on a tree or cactus or on the ground. Largely sedentary, this species may disperse or wander periodically.


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Recommended Citation

. 2010. Southern Caracara (Caracara plancus), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:

This map is based on the maps available from the NatureServe InfoNatura website. The data for these maps are provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE.

  • Migration/Movement:Resident (nonmigratory)
  • Primary Habitat:Arid lowland scrub
  • Foraging Strata:Terrestrial
  • Foraging Behavior:---
  • Diet:Carrion
  • Sociality:
  • Mating System:
  • Nest Form:
  • Clutch: -
  • IUCN Status:Least Concern