The Crested Caracara is usually grouped with falcons for it is a member of Falconidae; however, we chose to group the raptors by name and not family. Although many have not heard of the Crested Caracara, it is in actuality the natural emblem of Mexico (hence the name Mexican Eagle) and also is called "Audubon's Caracara". The Crested Caracara is the only Caracara of North America, since the Guadalupe Caracara is extinct.
The Caracara is the largest of the falcons of North America, being 20-25 inches long and having a wingspan of up to 48 inches. The face is bare, similar to the vulture, but the cheeks and top of the head are feathered. The cap is dark black, the cheeks white. The breast and upper back are white barred black. The belly and wings are dark grey; the underside of the tail is white. The tail is striped black and white, ending in a broad band of black. Immatures are brown.
Nests are built in trees out of sticks and twigs, 8-50 feet above the ground. 2-4 white eggs are laid, spotted and blotched heavily with brown. The eggs are incubated by both parents for 28 days.
The Caracara lives in the open; prairies and grasslands and the like. Its main food is carrion; often it is seen associating with vultures and other scavengers. It will also capture and eat rodents and reptiles.
Caracaras are found only sparingly in the southwestern United States, more often in Texas. Also found near Central Florida and western Cuba. Found almost throughout Mexico and Central America, sparingly in Baja California.