A Brave and Lovely Falcon, the Crested"Caracara," (Faceface) is the Mexican National Bird.

Eagle Looks: Vulture Habits

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These lovely Falcons are seen everywhere in BajaWhen you see this gorgeous falcon in flight, you can understand its importance in Mexico.One of the commonest sights in Baja California is the Caracara looking for prey on a high tree  credit bobdeinphotography.blogspot who has other photos.Marvellous if slightly imaginative picture of two caracaras.  I could find no artist to credit with this true work of art.
These lovely Falcons are seen everywhere in Baja
These lovely Falcons are seen everywhere in Baja
When you see this gorgeous falcon in flight, you can understand its importance in Mexico.
When you see this gorgeous falcon in flight, you can understand its importance in Mexico.
One of the commonest sights in Baja California is the Caracara looking for prey on a high tree  credit bobdeinphotography.blogspot who has other photos.
One of the commonest sights in Baja California is the Caracara looking for prey on a high tree credit bobdeinphotography.blogspot who has other photos.
Marvellous if slightly imaginative picture of two caracaras.  I could find no artist to credit with this true work of art.
Marvellous if slightly imaginative picture of two caracaras. I could find no artist to credit with this true work of art.

Chosen for its Guts and Looks

No, Our National Bird is Not the Fly!

Someone once asked me if the national bird of Australia was the fly. It isn’t, of course, although people might be forgiven for suggesting it would make the ideal choice as the pesky insects are everywhere.
National birds had never really interested me - what is ours in the UK, the Golden Eagle?
But as I spent so much time in Mexico I was surprised to hear one day that the Caracara was the chosen one. Where I lived in South Baja for many years, caracaras (it means “face-face“) were about as common as magpies in Britain. They could mainly be seen at the side of the road scavenging road-kill or even catching small snakes attracted to the warmth of the hard-top in the cold of the morning and evening.
When I looked into these fascinating birds I found there were more than ten sub-species, found all over Central and South America, as well in the extreme south of the US border states.
But the fellow Mexicans have adopted as their own is the Crested Caracara, found all along the mainland eastern coast but especially in Southern Baja where I lived for 10 years.
The caracara is a member of the Falconidae, just to get the Etruscan out of the way…Latin you say? Why don’t you write the durn hub! Most caracaras are scavengers by nature and only the Red Throated Caracara is a true raptor. Mexican birds often feed alongside buzzards and vultures which requires no little salt. A cacacara weighs about 3 pounds - big for a falcon, but nothing against a 20-pound vulture. But caracaras are known and admired for their bravery; one of the reason the machos picked him to adorn the flag, I suppose.
Their diet consists of small reptiles: lizards and snakes, as well as scorpions and spiders and insects, as well as road kill, a taste they have developed over the last half century as traffic increases in Baja and mainland Mexico. The birds look much better in flight, there is nothing vulture-like about the look of them anyway, a mini-eagle would be more descriptive. They are a handsome creature indeed. The adult Mexican caracara is about 22 inches in length, has a four-foot wing span, is black all over in colour with a black crested cap on the head, a red face and white patches near the wing tips.
The caracara fledglings have often been captured and reared in captivity much like our falcons, except they don’t have a need to fly off and knock off a wood pigeon. Caracaras have a distinctive hoarse cackle, which they employ to squawk, “Pigeon? Stuff your bloomin pigeon, We’ll have a nice bit o’ week-old road kill, thanks…and don’t invite those bloody buzzards!”
Caracas themselves were shot and eaten by the Indians in Baja in times past. They must have been easy prey if they behaved as they do today. They don’t seem particularly frightened of people or their cars and are a welcome sight on the roads near La Paz and other Baja towns. In fact, they play a large part in Mexican folklore where they are usually depicted as being fearless.
Caracaras made rudimentary nests as high as they can on trees and poles. Nesting platforms are in short supply in the desert regions. The nests are made of sticks and they will often repair and old nest that may have belonged to them or another caracara pair. the year before.

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Comments 13 comments

Daniel 7 years ago

I am from Mexico, and I don't know why many people like you, all the time say The Baja, Baja or, things like that. I know you are trying to speak about birds but, when you write or spell the name of some place, first of all, you need to know the name of that place (in this case I think you say you lived in BAJA CALIFORNIA SUR, or SOUTH BAJA CALIFORNIA, no South Baja or, Baja). People like you must to have and show respect when using a name of people, a country or, state of one country...


diogenes 7 years ago

Please don't comment again on my hubs, you don't know me, what I have dome for Mexico or Mexicans, and you sound like a hate-filled, prejudiced person.

I might add you are also wrong, these places are often abbreviated like this.

Viva Mexico!


diogenes 7 years ago

Daniel: Further to our comments, I have looked through some of my Spanish texts on Baja California. They do, as you said, put the title in full. But all my English language texts on the area use the dimunitive, or shortened "Baja." The reason for this, I believe, is that the word baja (lower) does not sound ridiculous standing alone in English. It does, of course, without a subject in Spanish. But I object to your disparaging me and my work, "People like you," and also your inferring I have no respect for Mexico. The opposite is true. And I do repeat, as the sobriquet "Baja" is in common usage in English texts, I shall continue to use it with no disrespect intended.


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 6 years ago from United States

What a lovely reminder of a bird that I have somewhat forgotten about. Born and raised in southern California, so frequent trips to Baja California and Sonora, Mexico were a big part of my childhood in the 1950s and 1960s.


diogenes profile image

diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

Hi Jerilee. Yes they are cheeky little chappies. I lived in La Paz South Baja for some years fairly recently and there are hundreds of them around; part of the scenery really; they compete with buzzards and such. Thanks for comment...Bob


Kin 5 years ago

The national bird of Mexico is the Golden Eagle, not the caracara. I think the confusion with the caracara came about when a Mexican ornithologist identified the bird in in the aztec codex which is from where the mexican coat of arms comes from as the caracara though this was purely based on the fact that the caracara is common in central mexico. But the bird in the codex does not look like a caracara at all, much more like a golden eagle or red tailed hawk for that matter. You can see the codex here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:CodexMendoza01.j...

But regardless of what bird was in the aztec codex, the official bird of Mexico which is shown in the flag is the golden eagle. Not the caracara.


diogenese 5 years ago

The Golden Eagle is seen as the National Bird by officialdom, but the bird identified as "a golden eagle" originally was the Crested Caracara. So it's a confused situation in which the Caracara seems to have been cheated out of its proper place! Bob

Thanks for the comment.


cadetes64 4 years ago

"La aguila real" which means the golden eagle is the national bird of Mexico


diogenes profile image

diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

Hola Cadet.

Yes, you're right; it used to be the Caracara, now the Golden Eagle, which is much more appropriate.

Bob I will ammend the article thank you


cadetes64 4 years ago

Its always been known that the eagle killed and ate the serpent on a cactus not a buzzard or vulture with its decaying rattlesnake carcass.


diogenes profile image

diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

OK, cadetes, we get the point. It might always have been known by some, but not by the other billions of people in the world old chap (or old girl).

By the way, a caracara is not a vulture nor a buzzard, but a member of the hawk family. It does scavange as you suggest, but it was also known for its intelligence and bravery.

Bob


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas

An interesting and handsome bird! Very informative as usual.


diogenes profile image

diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

Hi sexpot. Yes, thanks, this article raised some controversy. No one loves it more, nor knows less about his country than the average Mexican - perhaps that's true of many nationals. I know little about British history and don't want to know more. Hope you're happy these days.

Bob x

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