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This article is about the Caracara birds. For the song by South African rapper K.O, see Caracara (song).
Mountain caracara.jpg
Mountain Caracara
Phalcoboenus megalopterus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Falconiformes
Family: Falconidae
Subfamily: Polyborinae
Caracara in flight

Caracaras are birds of prey in the family Falconidae. They are traditionally placed in the subfamily Polyborinae,[1] but are sometimes considered part of their own subfamily, Caracarinae,[2] or members of the true falcon subfamily, Falconinae.[3] Caracaras are principally birds of South and Central America, just reaching the southern United States.

Unlike the Falco falcons in the same family, the birds in the five relevant genera are not fast-flying aerial hunters, but are comparatively slow and are often scavengers (a notable exception being the red-throated caracara).



The caracaras are found throughout much of the Americas. The range of the Northern caracara extends as far north as the states of Arizona, Texas, and Florida in the United States.[4] In the Southern Hemisphere, the striated caracara inhabits the Falkland Islands and Tierra del Fuego, just off the coast of the southernmost tip of South America.[5]


  1. ^ Myers, P. R.; C. S. Parr; T. Jones; G. S. Hammond; T. A. Dewey. "Subfamily Polyborinae (caracaras and forest falcons)". Animal Diversity Web. University of Michigan. Retrieved 2009-08-21. 
  2. ^ "Check-list of North American Birds". North American Classification Committee. American Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 2009-08-21. 
  3. ^ "A classification of the bird species of South America". South American Classification Committee. American Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 2009-08-21. [dead link]
  4. ^ "Crested Caracara". All About Birds. Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved 2009-08-21. 
  5. ^ Marín, Manuel; Alejandro Kusch; David Oehler; Scott Drieschman (2006). "Distribution, Breeding and Status of the Striated Caracara (Phalcoboenus australis) (Gmelin, 1788) in Southern Chile". Anales Instituto Patagonia 34: 65–74. 

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