Red-throated Caracara Ibycter americanus

  • Order: Falconiformes
  • Family: Falconidae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: Courtney Davis and Sean McCann


  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the Red-throated Caracara
eBird range map for Red-throated Caracara

Generated from eBird observations (Year-Round, 1900-present)

Distribution in the Americas

Historically the range of Red-throated Caracara extended from Mexico south to Brazil (but see Historical Changes). Currently this species occurs on the Caribbean slope of Honduras and northern Nicaragua; in southwestern and northern Caribbean Costa Rica (Stiles and Skutch 1989, eBird data); and locally in far western Panama, and throughout eastern Panama.  In northwestern South America, it occurs in western Colombia and in western Ecuador (Hilty and Brown 1986, Ridgely and Greenfield 2001a). Distribution in Peru of Red-throated Caracara. Solid circles: specimen records; open circles: sight records; dotted line: 1000 m contour (Schulenberg et al. 2006)East of the Andes, Red-throated Caracara occurs from southern and eastern Venezuela south to Bolivia and south central Brazil, and east to the Guianas.

Red-throated Caracara occurs primarily in the lowlends. The elevational range extends up to 1500 m in Peru, but only to 600 m in Bolivia (Hennessey et al. 2003), and to 800 m in Ecuador (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001a).

Distribution outside the Americas

Red-throated Caracara is endemic to the Americas.


The primary habitat of Red-throated Caracara is humid lowland evergreen forest.  They hunt in the understojry of high mature forests where the sparse vegetaion accomodates their slow, laboured flight and provides an excellent view of insect nests and any approaching predators.

Historical changes

Red-throated Caracara underwent a massive and unexplained population crash and range decline in Central America in second half of the 20th century. Some populations apparently are (slowly) recovering, but others may now be extirpated:

Mexico: Red-throated Caracara was not reported at all from Mexico until it was encountered in southern Veracruz in 1947 (Lowery and Dalquest 1951), and later also was found on the Pacific slope of Chiapas (Alvarez del Toro 1971). Currently this caracara appears to be completely absent from Mexico; it is suspected that it was already extinct by the 1980s, if not earlier, but the reason for thedisappearance is currently unknown (Ramos 1986, Howell and Webb 1995).

Guatemala: Formerly a rare resident in the Pacific lowlands (Land 1970), but is most likely extinct there now (Eisermann and Avendano 2007).

Honduras: Few reliable sightings have been recorded for this species in the past decade. It was once an uncommon reside of Caribbean rainforests (Monroe 1968) but was feared extirpated in the 1980's. Some populations are beginning to recover (Narish and Jenner 2004).

Costa Rica: Formeraly widespread and common in the forests of Costa Rica but has now inexplicably disappeared from most of this range (Stiles 1985), although in recent years it apparently is increasing again in northeastern Costa Rica (eBird data).

Panama: This species formerly occurred throughout Caribbean Panama, but began to disappear from known localities in the 1950s, and had all but disappeared from western Panama by the 1970s (Ridgely and Gwynne 1989). Red-throated Caracara remains widespread in eastern Panama, however.

Ecuador: Probably Red-throated Caracara once was widespread in western Ecuador; currently it is known only from the Chongón Hills in Guayas and from northern Esmerldas (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001a). In contrast to Central America, where the decline of this species remains unexplained, its disappearance from much of western Ecuador is at least in part related to widespread deforestation.

Fossil history

No information available.

Recommended Citation

Davis, C. and S. McCann (2014). Red-throated Caracara (Ibycter americanus), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.