Caracara (genus)

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Crested Caracara JCB.jpg
Crested caracara at the Tárcoles River, Costa Rica
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Falconiformes
Family: Falconidae
Subfamily: Polyborinae
Genus: Caracara
Merrem, 1826

and see text

Map showing range of the genus Caracara
Range of the genus Caracara


Caracara is a genus of birds of prey in the family Falconidae found throughout a large part of the Americas. They are part of a group collectively referred to as caracaras. The modern species in the genus Caracara were previously considered conspecific (as "crested caracara", a name still widely used for the northern caracara)[1][2][3] and were originally placed within the genus Polyborus.


Two of the modern species are extinct, one was deliberately made extinct by humans about 100 years ago (to the detriment of its island home). Several prehistoric taxa are also known.

The fossil record proves the long history of the mainland "crested caracaras". Remains of northern caracaras, slightly larger than those of modern times but otherwise identical, were found in the famous La Brea Tar Pits.[8] In addition, the Guadalupe caracara may derive from an already-distinct population of western Mexico that subsequently was displaced by the main continental population.


  1. ^ AOU Check-list of North American Birds. 7th edition w. supplements. Accessed 2008-04-26
  2. ^ ABA Check-list (PDF). Version 6.8. Accessed 2008-04-26
  3. ^ Clements, J. F. 2007. The Clements Checklist of the Birds of the World. 6th edition. Christopher Helm. ISBN 978-0-7136-8695-1
  4. ^ a b c "Caracara". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 3 April 2011. 
  5. ^ Steadman, David W.; Franz, Richard; Morgan, Gary S.; Albury, Nancy A.; Kakuk, Brian; Broad, Kenneth; Franz, Shelley E.; Tinker, Keith; Pateman, Michael P.; Lott, Terry A.; Jarzen, David M.; Dilcher, David L. (2007). "Exceptionally well preserved late Quaternary plant and vertebrate fossils from a blue hole on Abaco, The Bahamas". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104 (50): 19897–19902. doi:10.1073/pnas.0709572104. PMC 2148394. PMID 18077421. 
  6. ^ Brodkorb, Pierce (1959). "Pleistocene Birds from New Providence Island, Bahamas" (PDF). Bulletin of the State of Florida Museum (University of Florida) 4 (11): 354. 
  7. ^ Olson, Storrs L. (2008). "A New Species of Large, Terrestrial Caracara from Holocene Deposits in Southern Jamaica (Aves: Falconidae)". Journal of Raptor Research (The Raptor Research Foundation) 42 (4): 265–272. doi:10.3356/JRR-08-18.1. 
  8. ^ Guthrie, Daniel A. (1992). "A Late Pleistocene Avifauna from San Miguel Island, California" (PDF). Los Angeles County Natural History Museum Science Series 36: 319–327. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Photo of crested caracara at Brazos Bend State Park, Texas : [1]