Bird Families

Locust, or common caracar


In the book version

Volume 13. Moscow, 2009, p. 68

Copy bibliographic reference:

CARACARS (Polyborinae), subfamily of birds of prey of the family. falcon. Four genera: ordinary K. (Caracara, 1 species), black K. (Daptrius, 2 species), mountain K. (Phalcoboenus, 4 species), and noisy K. (Milvago, 2 species). Body length 37–65 cm, weight 0.3–1.6 kg. Some features of the structure and lifestyle are similar to representatives of this. hawks, especially on vultures. The beak is massive, straight or slightly curved, hooked, the beak is without a tooth, the brow ridge is absent, on the head and neck there are areas of bare, usually brightly colored skin. The wings are wide and blunt or long and sharp. The legs are long, the toes are thin, the claws are straight and blunt or curved, sharp. The color of the plumage in most C. is black or brown with white, yellow, and red markings. They live in the Center. and Yuzh. America, only the common caracar (C. plancus) is distributed from the south. states of the United States to Cape Horn and the Falkland Islands. They prefer open spaces and woodlands, dry and swampy, rise to the height of the mountains. 4000 m, black K. also settle in the tropical. forests. They usually look out for prey in soaring and active flight, in search of food they spend quite a lot of time on the ground, they run quickly. They are omnivores, attack sick and weak animals, often feed on carrion and garbage, can take prey from other birds, and sometimes eat ripe fruits. Red-throated caracar (D. americanus) specializes in feeding on wasp larvae. K. build their own nests, placing them on trees, rocks, and the ground. In clutch there are 2–3, less often 4–5 eggs, incubate for 26–30 days, chicks are fed from 32 days (Milvago) to 2–3 months. Endemic for Fr. Guadalupe (Mexico) species of Guadalupe caracar (C. lutosa) was exterminated by cattle breeders by the beginning. 20th century.


The locust, or the common caracara (lat.Caracara plancus) belongs to the Falconidae family and is one of its largest representatives.

In size and weight, it is surpassed only by the gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus), which is widespread in the northern hemisphere. She also lives in South America.

Among South American Indians, this bird of prey is highly respected and is considered a symbol of military valor. In honor of her, Lautaro and Pelantaro, the leaders of the Mapuche tribe, who raised uprisings against the Spanish colonialists in the 16th century in Chile were named. The first name is translated into Russian as "quick quarantine", and the second as "glowing quarantine".

The species was first described in 1777 by the British illustrator and zoologist John Frederick Miller.


The habitat extends from the south of South America to the Amazon River basin and the northern regions of Peru. The common caracar is common in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Ecuador and Uruguay. In the second half of the 19th century, she appeared in the Falkland Islands. Sheep breeders presumably brought it.

The total area of ​​the occupied area exceeds 20 thousand square kilometers.

The birds avoid the high Andes regions and dense rainforests. Most often, they settle on the border of forests and semi-open spaces. Often these birds of prey nest near human settlements. In mountainous areas, they are usually observed at altitudes up to 1400 m above sea level. Peru has a population living at an altitude of 2500 m.

There are 3 known subspecies. The nominative subspecies lives in the south of the South American continent and the Falkland Islands.


Ordinary caracars live singly or in small family groups. Young individuals can gather in flocks in winter. They set up their observation posts on the tops of tall trees, bushes or poles.

The locust flies quite hard, making strong flapping of its wings with noise. Unlike eagles and vultures, it does not use warm updrafts for gliding flight, so it flies out in search of food earlier than other predators and scavengers.

The bird spends a lot of time on the soil surface. Long legs and toes allow her to move quickly on the ground. She runs briskly and is able to catch the victim on the run.

In search of prey, the common caracar can circle in the air for a long time, making sharp loud sounds.

She chooses young and sick animals as potential hunting trophies. The predator strikes them many times with its beak in the eyes, lips and anal area. They continue until the victim is exhausted and dies.


Carrion predominates in the diet of caracar. They are often present near highways and eat the carcasses of animals crushed by vehicles.

Birds look out for prey both from the air and walking on the ground. Their victims are small lizards, snakes, rodents, frogs, insects, snails and earthworms. They often destroy birds' nests by eating chicks and eggs. On the beaches, predators find turtle clutches and eat the hatched turtles.

Locusts also eat food of plant origin. They feed on nuts, beans, avocados and palms. Among them, kleptoparasitism flourishes. They often take food from weaker birds.


The beginning of the mating season depends on climatic conditions and geographic location. In Chile, caracara begins to nest in October, in Argentina in September, and in southern Brazil and Uruguay in April and May.

Nests are located on trees, cacti and shrubs, very rarely directly on the ground or on anthropogenic structures. In 2010, a pair of birds made their nest at a sign near the motorway. This event took place in Buenos Aires.

Ordinary caracars tend to form married couples for life. The nest is constructed from twigs and brushwood. The female lays 2-3 cream or buffy eggs with dark brown or reddish brown specks. Their size is about 57x45 mm. Both parents incubate the clutch alternately.

Incubation lasts 28-30 days. Chicks hatch covered with brownish-yellow fluff, but their heads, shoulders and chest patch are brown with a purple tint. The beaks are pale pink and the limbs are pale gray.

Both parents feed the chicks for 70 days. Then they stand on the wing, and after 2-3 months they join the teenage groups.


Body length 54-65 cm, tail 23-27 cm. Wingspan 120-132 cm. Weight 900-1600 g. Males are about 10% lighter and smaller than females. Birds from southern populations are larger than their northern counterparts.

The main background of the color is dark brown. There is a black crest on the white head, the front part is red. The chest, neck and tail are decorated with black and white stripes. There is a wide black and white stripe at the tip of the tail.

The tops of the wings are dark brown. The beak is blue-gray, the iris of the eyes is brown. The legs and feet are yellow. In young birds, the color is less contrasting. Instead of stripes, they have dotted lines.

The life span of the common caracar in the wild is 15-20 years. In captivity, she lives up to 30 years.