The Crested Caracara (Caracara cheriway) is a large bird of prey found in the Americas, ranging from southern Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas in the United States, south to northern Argentina. These birds measure between 20-24 inches (50-61 cm) in length and have a wingspan of 47-55 inches (119-140 cm). They weigh between 2.2-3.3 pounds (1-1.5 kg).
One of the distinguishing field marks of the Crested Caracara is its bare, orange-yellow facial skin and long, heavy beak. The birds have a black cap and white neck, breast, and belly. They also have long, broad wings, and a long tail. In flight, they can be recognized by their distinctive slow, deep wing beats. The Crested Caracara is sometimes mistaken for a vulture, due to its scavenging habits and similar appearance from a distance.
Unlike many other birds of prey, the Crested Caracara is not a migratory bird, with populations remaining year-round in their territories. They inhabit a variety of habitats, including grasslands, savannas, and dry scrubland. They can be found at altitudes ranging from sea level up to 9,800 feet (3,000 meters).
Crested Caracaras are opportunistic feeders, eating a wide variety of prey, including small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates. They are also known to scavenge from carrion, as well as steal food from other birds. These birds are active during the day and spend much of their time on the ground, walking or running to find prey.
Overall, the Crested Caracara is a unique and adaptable bird of prey that can be found throughout much of the Americas. With their distinctive appearance and scavenging habits, they are an important part of many ecosystems.