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Crested Caracara   Caracara cheriway

The Crested Caracara is the only Caracara species found in North America.  It has a continuous year-round distribution from South America and Central America into Texas, southern Arizona, and southern California.  There are isolated populations in Florida and the Caribbean.  Another common name for this species is Audubons Crested Caracara (Polyborus plancas audubonii).

In Florida, these birds are found in open grassland habitats.  They are found in the south-central part of the peninsula,  They are most abundant in the following counties: DeSoto, Glades, Hendry, Highlands, Okeechobee, and Osceola.  Some are frequently seen in adjacent counties, such as Charlotte.  Their breeding season is from January through March.

The population in Florida has been decreasing.  The population in 1991 was estimated to be around 500 birds.  Because the Florida birds are isolated from the western birds, the Federal Government has listed this species as Threatened.  Therefore they are protected under the Federal Endangered Species act as well as by Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule.  The main threat to this species is the loss of habitat caused by urban development and agricultural development, such as citrus farms.

The pictures on this page were taken at the following locations:  Prairie Creek Preserve and along Bermont Road (Charlotte County), along SR 72 (western DeSoto County), and along Bermont Road (Glades County).