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Crested Caracara

Mexico's National Bird? Not quite, but close.

The Crested Caracara, one of North America's most charismatic birds of prey, is common in Texas, and an isolated population lives in Florida. They stride through the grass on long legs, as they hunt for small animals of all kinds. Many Mexicans honor the caracara as their national symbol, although a Golden Eagle actually appears on the flag of Mexico. The bird was sacred to the Aztecs. And a caracara will face off against a vulture twice its size!
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Full Transcript

Transcript: 
BirdNote®
Crested Caracara -
Is it a Falcon? Is it an Eagle? Yes, it’s a Caracara!

Written by Dennis Paulson

This is BirdNote.

[Crested Caracara calls (rattling)]

These weird calls come from a Crested Caracara, one of North America’s most charismatic birds of prey. Caracaras are tropical birds, but they’re common in Texas, and an isolated population lives in Florida. [Caracara rattling calls]

With their big beak, shaggy crest, red face, and striking black and white plumage, caracaras are eye-catching. Their name comes from the rattling sound of their calls. Although members of the falcon family, caracaras look like small eagles. But their behavior is pure caracara, striding through the grass on long legs as they hunt for small animals of all kinds. Furthermore, they have achieved national acclaim. [Mexican music performed by Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlan]

Although the national symbol of Mexico is the Golden Eagle, popular knowledge has often attributed that honor to the Crested Caracara. The caracara is widespread and familiar, and it was sacred to the Aztecs. It also seems fearless as it looks down on you from a tall cactus. It eats anything and is equally happy pouncing on a snake or scarfing up roadkill. Did I say fearless? A caracara will face off against a vulture twice its size! [Mexican music continued]

You can see a National Geographic video of a gang of young caracaras, getting into a lot of trouble. Begin at our website, BirdNote.org. I’m Michael Stein. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Video is no longer available. Sorry!]

Today’s show brought to you by the Lufkin Family Foundation.

###

Sounds of  provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. 138362 - Recorded by Gregory F Budney
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org          December 2013/2017     Narrator: Michael Stein

ID# SotB-CRCA-01-2011-12-20        SotB-CRCA-01b  (revised Jan. 2012)

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