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Yellow-headed Caracara
Milvago chimachima

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Increasing.

Other Names: Northern Carrion Falcon, Chimachima Caracara.

Milvago chimachima
click to enlarge
Distribution: Neotropical. COSTA RICA through PANAMA and COLOMBIA south through eastern and Amazonian South America to northern ARGENTINA. more....

Subspecies: 2 races. M. c. cordatus: COSTA RICA and PANAMA (including Pearl Islands) through COLOMBIA to the GUIANAS south through eastern BRAZIL to the Amazon River; TRINIDAD; absent from the heavily forested portions of Amazonia; M. c. chimachima: Eastern ECUADOR, eastern BOLIVIA and BRAZIL south of the Amazon River to PARAGUAY, URUGUAY, and northern ARGENTINA.

Taxonomy: This species and the Chimango Caracara were formerly included in Ibycter with all other caracara species (Sharpe 1874). They were first separated into Milvago by Kirke Swann (1922). Peters (1931) recognized four caracara genera, and this treatment was followed by Brown and Amadon (1968), who commented, however, on the close relationship of Polyborus, Phalacoboenus, and Milvago. Vuilleumier (1970) recommended that these three genera be merged into a a single genus, Polyborus (now Caracara), and Griffiths (1994) could find no difference between Milvago and Phalcoboenus on the basis of syringeal characters. Most recent authorities have recognized Milvago as a valid genus, but the relationships of the caracaras clearly need further study. This species forms a superspecies with M. chimango, although they may be sympatric in some areas. Most recent authors recognize the northern race cordatus, but not a purported form, paludivagus, from Surinam and Cayenne. Treated as monotypic by Brown and Amadon (1968).

Movements: Irruptive or local migrant (Bildstein 2006).

Habitat and Habits: Occurs in lowlands and middle elevations, frequenting open country, including savannas, cattle pastures, agricultural lands, low second-growth, and riparian areas, where it perches conspicuously on tops of trees or on the ground.

Food and Feeding Behavior: A dietary opportunist, feeding on carrion, garbage, feces, and small live animals, including mammals, snakes, lizards, fish, crabs, large insects, caterpillars, young chickens, and the contents of bird nests. Sometimes stoops at prey from flight, but more often hunts on the ground, often among cattle, making dashes after small prey. Eats ticks off the backs of cattle and attends grass fires to capture feeling animals. more....

Breeding: The nest is a fairly substantial platform of sticks placed in the top of a tree or in a palm tree, the old nest of another species is used. Clutch size is 2 eggs, which have a white ground color and are almost completely suffused with buffy to reddish-brown pigment. more....

Conservation: Common everywhere it occurs and expanding range outward and upward as deforestation occurs in many areas. Categorized as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International. more....

Sites of Interest:
Yellow-headed Caracara photos.
Aves de Rapina do Brasil
Species account with emphasis on Brazil.

Olivo Quiroga, Cristian E.
Silveira da Silva, Elsimar
Varela, Nestor

Last modified: 10/13/2010

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2020. Species account: Yellow-headed Caracara Milvago chimachima. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 7 Jul. 2020

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