Crested Caracara

Caracara cheriway

This confusing bird has traits that confounds classification. It looks like a small eagle, behaves like a scavenging vulture, but has the bone structure of a falcon, which is where science has it classified (Falconidae).

There are two species of caracara, both in the New World. One, Caracara plancus lives in South America, and the other, Caracara cheriway lives north of the equator and has a range that includes parts of Texas and Arizona.

So far, I’ve only been able to photograph this species on the Texas gulf coast. But I’ve frequently seen them on the roadsides of southern Texas and sometimes in Arizona. Roadside birds are wary of vehicles coming to a stop near them, and attempting to capture images is not practical.

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