A black and white bird of prey of the high Andes. Resambles the closely related mountain caracara (Phalcoboenus megalopterus), except for the white streaks on the black chest and throat. As other members of the same genus, it has long walking legs which allow him to roam the open highlands. Face with red or yellow caruncula. Legs yellow (Ridgely, 2001).
The adult is practically impossible to confuse with other species, but if so it could be confused with Phalcoboenus megalopterus (Ridgely, 2001).
Dark black dorsal plumage with risen crown feathers. Uppertail coverts and tips of tail feathers white. Undertail, vent, thigh and belly completely white, Breast and chin adorned with black and white feathers. During flight, long black wings with white underside and white feather tips on the trailing edge. Eyes with dark brown iris. Head with wrinkled orange/red skin in rostrum and upper throat. Beak bluish/grey. Long yellow or light orange legs (Ridgely, 2001).
Immature is covered almost entirely by a brown plumage, with white spots in head and breast. Uppertail coverts whitish pale yellow colour in face skin and pale yellow legs. While in flight the base of the primary feathers have a white patch with brown bars (Ridgely, 2001). When molting the brown feathers give way to a black plumage and white belly. Caruncula becomes brighter as well as leg colors.
Face red/orange or yellow. Skin face becomes brighter at the begining of the breeding season. Legs dark yellow.
size min.: 50 cm
size max.:56 cm
wingspan min:105 cm