Captive Crested Caracara

During a recent one week vacation in Cuba I was able to capture a few images of a captive Crested Caracara. The bird’s owner was very congenial and interacted with many of the tourists. His Crested Caracara was quite tame and would gently perch on people’s forearms. 

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 173 mm, efov 467.1 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-2800

The Crested Caracara is a member of the falcon family and is seen in  southern parts of Texas, Arizona, California and in areas of Florida. Its range extends through Mexico, Central America and into northern areas of South America. The northern species is also found in Cuba. There is another species of Crested Caracara that is found in South America.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 195 mm, efov 526.5 mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-3200

On occasion Crested Caracaras have been known to stray northward with individual birds spotted as far north as Michigan. One bird was even spotted as far away as New Brunswick, Canada.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 189 mm, efov 510.3 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-2200

This medium sized raptor is a carnivorous scavenger that mainly feeds on carrion. Prey includes small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, turtles, crabs, eggs and nesting birds. The Crested Caracara is easily recognizable by its distinctive plumage. They are often seen in the presence of other carrion eating birds.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 189 mm, efov 510.3 mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-1400

The Crested Caracara is most commonly seen south of the Mexico/United States border. In some areas it is locally referred to as the ‘Mexican Buzzard’.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 208 mm, efov 561.6 mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-1250

The captive bird illustrated in this article was positioned adjacent to some steps leading into the main buffet restaurant, drawing a lot of interest from the diners. I only had a few narrow shooting angles that allowed me to compose my images without distracting backgrounds in them.

Technical Note:
All photographs in this article were captured hand-held using camera gear as per the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO PhotoLab, CS6 and the Nik Collection.

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2 thoughts on “Captive Crested Caracara”

    1. Hi Dick,

      I appreciate your point of view. I’m unclear on the exact status of the bird i.e. whether it was captured in the wild, or if it was an injured bird that was rescued, and could not be returned to the wild because of its injuries.


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