copyright: K. Blomerley
The Yellow-headed Caracara is broad-winged and long-tailed. The adult has a buff yellowish head, with a distinct black streak behind the eye, and buff underparts. The upperparts are brown with distinctive pale patches on the flight feathers of the wings, and the tail is barred cream and brown.The female is larger than the male, immature birds are mottled with brown below.
Open country with scattered trees, near agricultural areas (cattle), savannah, swamps and forest edges
The Yellow-headed Caracara is a resident breeding bird from Costa Rica and Trinidad and Tobago south through South America to northern Argentina. In Suriname a common bird, in Noreth Suriname even the most numerous raptor.
The Yellow-headed Caracara is omnivorous, and will eat reptiles, amphibians and other small animals as well as carrion. It will also take ticks from cattle, and is locally called -tickbird-.
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence 30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]
They use stick nests, as well as hills (termite mounds?), as nesting sites, but very often they use man-made structures, as well as cavity nests, f.e. trees. The relatively short incubation period (22 days) as compared to similarly sized raptors is interesting, particularly in light of the incredibly short fledging period of 17 days. The female is always the primary incubator at the nest. She iss occasionally (one or two times per day) relieved by the male who will call her off the nest. She flies to the calling male, who in turn flew into the nest and settled on the eggs. The female
returns a short time later (usually 5 to 10 min) and incubating duties are again switched. The delaying of incubation until a full clutch of four eggs has been laid followed by synchronous hatching is unusual for falcons. In fact, the superspecies compatriot of the Yellow-headed Caracara, the Chimango Caracara (Milvago chimachima), begins incubation upon laying the first egg.
At the range periphery, a species is experiencing ecological, and probably physiological, limitations. The differences found in clutch size in earlier studies (1-2) may be linked to the readily available food supply provided by conditions at the beeding site.
Very little data available, thought to be sedentary.
- spanwidth min.: 0 cm
- spanwidth max.: 0 cm
- size min.: 40 cm
- size max.: 45 cm
- incubation min.: 21 days
- incubation max.: 23 days
- fledging min.: 17 days
- fledging max.: 23 days
- broods 1
- eggs min.: 3
- eggs max.: 5
- Conservation Status
- Milvago chimachima chimachima
- Amazon south to n Argentina
- Milvago chimachima cordata
- s Costa Rica through South America north of the Amazon
- Milvago chimachima
- LA Costa Rica to n Argentina