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THE CARACARA

or
Guess Whos Coming to Dinner in Gonzales County

by John Troesser
Caracara
TE photo, October 2014

Caracara, Vulture of the Millennium!

It's name is echoic, meaning the name imitates it's cry. Caracara is the sound that is heard by Brazilian Indians. Why we have to have Brazilian Indians name it is beyond us.

The Caracara or Mexican Eagle

Next time you find yourself heading toward Gonzales County, pay attention when you pass the roadside road-kill buffets. The fastidious, over-dressed diners feasting with the common garden-variety vultures on the carcass du jour are more than likely the beautiful and regal Crested Caracara. These are members of the Falcon family and they usually stand out like tuxedos in a soup kitchen serving line. The bird, sometimes referred to as a Mexican eagle, has manners equal to its regal appearance. They are monogamous, they build (extremely sturdy) nests and are attentive parents who preen daily, setting a good example for their offspring. Sharing a carcass with inferior birds is done reluctantly. The Caracara is quite capable of killing living prey and with its powerful legs, The birds have been known to run down their prey or even wade in shallow water.

For reasons known only to the Caracara, Gonzales County has the highest concentration of these magnificent birds in the entire U.S. Indeed, it is hard to spend a day in rural Gonzales County without seeing at least one. Gonzales Countys Palmetto State Park is where the Audubon Society takes its yearly census.

While their range extends throughout Mexico all the way to Argentina, they are only found in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona in the U.S. - with a small colony located in central Florida.
Caracara in Clearwater, Florida
at a raptor rescue exhibit October 2014

TE photo
Juvenile Northern Crested Caracara
Juvenile Northern Crested Caracara, under care at the Wildlife Rehab & Education Center
Photo courtesy Cyndi Bohannon
A caracara with its prey
The series of photos included here were taken along highway 71 near Bastrop, Texas. (Bastrop County shares a border with Gonzales County). A grass fire in early March 2009, scorched some 50 acres east of town, exposing wildlife and providing a feast for scavenging birds. In this case, the meal was a four foot rattlesnake.
Caracara with snake
Caracara feeding on snake
Caracara feeding on snake
Caracara with snake
Caracara feeding on snake
Caracara feeding on snake
Caracara feeding on snake
TE photos, March 2009
CaraCara Means More Than FaceFace

By Maggie Van Ostrand

'It seems the Caracaras must have expensive lobbyists representing them in Washington DC. The United States Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects Crested Caracaras as an endangered species, even though these big birds only visit Arizona, Florida, and Texas. This leaves the remaining 47 states to the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, Red-Footed Booby and Dark-Rumped Petrel. However, in Mexico, where Caracaras have the exalted title of National Bird, humans sometimes eat them. Go figure." more


Caracara By David Knape
More Texas Animals
Visit Palmetto State Park
Gonzales, Texas
Gonzales Hotels
Bastrop, Texas
Bastrop Hotels

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