Audubon's Crested Caracara throws its head back to the extreme in a courtship display - you can see he also make a loud call, but it is so windy it can't be heard. He has a tasty piece of carrion for a gift to the lucky lady (note the bands on both legs), but just as the stage is set for some quality time for this couple a Turkey Vulture arrives - nothing like a vulture to ruin the ambiance!
Although a majestic member of the falcon family they live mostly off of carrion.
Crested Caracara's are one of the rarest of Florida birds and live year round mostly in central Florida. They are protected as a threatened species by the Federal Endangered Species Act.
The diet of Audubon’s crest caracara primarily consists of carrion (dead animal carcass), amphibians, reptiles, mammals; eggs; and other birds.
Little is known about the reproduction of the caracara. Eggs from caracaras in Florida have been found from September to April, with the breeding season seeming to peak from January to March. Nests are constructed with sticks, dry weed stalks, and long and narrow segments of vine. The average clutch size is two eggs, with juveniles reaching adult size at five weeks of age, and fledging occurring at seven to eight weeks old .
Habitat and Distribution
Audubon's crested caracara inhabits wet prairies with cabbage palms (Sabal palmetto). It may also be found in wooded areas with saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), cypress (Taxodium spp), and scrub oaks (Quercus geminate, Q. minima, Q. pumila) (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, n.d.). Caracaras will also inhabit pastures (J. Rodgers pers comm. 2011). Audubon's crested caracara is found throughout south central Florida, and also occurs in Texas, Arkansas, Mexico, Cuba, and Panama .
The main threat to the Audubon’s crested caracara is habitat loss. The main cause of habitat loss includes modification for urban development and agriculture. Due to its isolation and specific habitat dependence, an environmental catastrophe could cause a significant decline in the caracara’s population. A disproportionate sex ratio could occur in an environmental catastrophe causing lower reproductive rates (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, n.d.). Traffic mortality will continue to be a threat to the species as the population of Florida continues to increase and more roads are constructed. Illegal take from trapping is also a threat to crested caracaras
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