Caracara Plancus – Crested Caracara

Caracara Plancus - Crested Caracara in southern US

The crested caracara, Caracara plancus, is a falconid in the family of falconidae. On the east coast of Florida, it has been spotted as far as extreme eastern Seminole County (Lake Harney), where it is currently classified as a resident although least concerned.

Quick Overview: Caracara Plancus – Crested Caracara
Body size: Around 20-25 in (51-64 cm) and a weight of 952 g (33.6 oz)
Main colors: White, Brown, Red- Orange
Range: Southern United States
Migratory Bird: No
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: All Year (January – December)
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Crested caracara Description

The auriculars (ear feathers), throat, and nape (back of the neck) are whitish-buff, while the chest, neck, mantle, back, upper tail-coverts, crissum, and basal portion of the tail are whitish-buff streaked dark brownish. In-flight, the outer primaries (longer wing feathers) have a broad whitish-buff patch like other caracara species. Legs golden exposed face skin and cere reddish-orange.

Caracara Plancus - Crested Caracara in southern US
Caracara Plancus – Crested Caracara. Photo by: Manjith Kainickara


These birds have a length of 20-25 in (51-64 cm) and a weight of 952 g (33.6 oz). Their wings could range from 45-48 in (114-122 cm).


Insects, worms, and nestling birds are their main sources of food. Caracaras eat a lot of carrion in addition to hunting. They are frequently the first to arrive to a feeding frenzy since they fly lower than vultures.


The Falkland Islands have a small population. It avoids the Andean highlands and thick humid forests like the Amazon, preferring open areas around major rivers. Otherwise, it inhabits open or semi-open areas and is frequently seen around humans.


A brave, opportunistic raptor that forages on the ground. Food sources include dead animals, raptors, bird nests, and live prey if available (mostly insects or other small prey, but at least up to the size of a Snowy Egret). It outnumbers the Black and Turkey Vultures on corpses. It is usually solitary, although big food sources may attract many

Caracara plancus Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Falconiformes
  • Family: Falconidae
  • Genus: Caracara
  • Species: Caracara plancus

Best time of the year to see

In the United States, the best time of year to see these birds is all year round, regardless of the season. This refers to any month of the year between January and December.

Distribution of the Crested caracara in the USA

From Baja California through eastern Texas, and south across most of Mexico and into Panama, this species may be found. The species is also present in areas of the West Indies, extreme southern Arizona, southwestern Louisiana, and central Florida.

Caracara Plancus – Crested Caracara

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