Family Falcons, Caracaras (Falconidae)

Least Concern

Southern Caracara (Caracara plancus)


French: Caracara huppé German: Schopfkarakara Spanish: Carancho meridional
Other common names: Southern Crested Caracara, Crested Caracara (when lumped with C. cheriway)

Falco plancus

J. F. Miller

, 1777,

Tierra del Fuego


Formerly treated as conspecific with C. cheriway, and also frequently with †C. lutosa. Recently split from C. cheriway#R, which differs in having breast with “dark spots or wedge-shaped bars, heavier posteriorly” vs “dark and light bars over entire breast area” (2); pale wedge-shaped patch with broad black bars on upper back, scapulars always black vs upper back and scapulars finely barred with no wedge-shaped patch (2); barred upper back, black lower back, white uppertail-coverts and barred tail vs upper back to tail barred (2); vent area pale vs dark (ns[1]); narrow hybrid zone (2). Monotypic.


N & C Peru and C Bolivia E to Amazon Delta and S to Tierra del Fuego; Falkland Is.

Descriptive notes

50–64 cm; 1150–1600 g (sexes combined) in Chile and Peru, but 700–960 g for sample from NW Argentina; wingspan 120–133 cm. Large caracara very similar... read more


Similar to that of C. cheriway. Gives variety of rattles, cackles and squawks. read more


Variety of open and semi-open habitats, mainly in lowlands, that include grasslands, pastures, palm... read more

Food and feeding

Highly opportunistic, with one of the most diverse diets of any species of diurnal raptor. Feeds on a wide array of carrion (e.g. road-... read more


Nests in Dec in Paraguay, Jul–Jan and Nov–Mar in C and S Argentina, respectively; incubation began in Sept at a nest in Minas... read more


Generally sedentary, but likey some local movements in addition to dispersal by juveniles.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. No data on global population size, but considered fairly common to locally abundant in much of range, and is especially... read more

Recommended citation

Bierregaard, R.O., Jr & Marks, J.S. (2020). Southern Caracara (Caracara plancus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 19 February 2020).