Yellow-headed caracara

Yellow-headed caracara
Milvago chimachima

Photo by Celuta Machado (Aves de Rapina Brasil)

Common name:
yellow-headed caracara (en); gavião-carrapateiro (pt); caracara à tête jaune (fr); chimachimá (es); gelbkopfkarakara (de)

Order Falconiformes
Family Falconidae

This species is found from Costa Rica south to northern Argentina and Uruguay, only east of the Andes mountain chain. They also occur in Trinidad and Tobago.

These birds are 40-46 cm long and have a wingspan of 81-95 cm. They weigh 280-360 g.

The yellow-headed caracara is mostly found in wet grasslands and savannas, but also uses scrublands, second growths and pastures. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 2.600 m.

They are generalist predators, taking reptiles and amphibians, insects and other invertebrates, small mammals, bird nestlings, carrion and human refuse. They are known to take ticks from cattle.

Yellow-headed caracaras breed in August-December. They nest in a stick platform placed on a scrub or tree, or also on termite mounds or man-made structures. The female lays 2-7 buff-coloured eggs with brown markings, which are incubated for about 22 days. The chicks fledge 17-20 days after hatching.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and is described as common. The population is increasing owing to deforestation and conversion of lowland forests into cattle ranches.

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