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The southern crested caracara (caracara cheriway) or carancho is indigenous to central and southern South America and ranges from Tierra del Fuego in the south to the Amazon River region and southern Peru. It prefers any open or semi-open habitat, avoiding the Andean highlands and dense humid forest. The caracara is often found near humans and the name comes for a South American indian name based on the birds call.
This is a large bird of the falcon family measuring 20" to 26" with a wingspan between 47" and 52." The body, thighs, ard crest are a darkish brown. The shoulders and lower back are a whitish buff with dark brownish barring. The tail is whitish buff with a dark brownish tip. The ncck and head are a whitish buff. The facial skin and the area aroung the nostrils or cere, range from deep yellow to a reddish orange and is influenced by age and mood. Its legs are yellow and the tip of the beak is hooked and a pale blueish gray.
Title: Southern Crested Caracara
Title: Caracara Cheriway
Caracaras typically walk on the ground looking for food, feeding mainly on the carcasses of dead animals. They will steal food from other raptors and are dominant over both black and turkey vultures. They are scavangers and will raid bird nests and take live prey, mostly insects of small animals up to the siza of a snowy egret.
The southern crested caracara is usually solitary, but several may gather at large food sources like a large carcass or a city dump.
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