The Crested Caracara (Caracara plancus)

Sometimes called the Mexican eagle, the crested caracara is actually a large falcon. Unlike most falcons, they build their nests – falcons typically use old abandoned nests from other species or nest in dug-outs on the ground. They return to this nest site year after year and sometimes remain with the same partner year after year as well.

Also unlike most falcons, these birds are happy to scavenge their meals and are often seen among vultures eating carrion – though they are not exclusively scavengers, they will hunt and kill their prey. It is a tropical raptor and the northern reaches of its territories include Mexico and the southern states of the US including parts of Florida, Arizona, and Texas.

They're a little larger than a crow in body shape but with a four-foot or more wingspan. Long-legged, they are just as good at walking on the ground as they are at flying – and they're very proficient fliers. Like a bald eagle, they prefer to fly with their wings out flat. They are birds of the open country, preferring fields, agricultural areas, open scrub, desserts, and savannahs.

✔️ “Crested Caracara Overview, All about Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology.”, ✔️ “Crested Caracara.” Audubon, 13 Nov. 2014,