Caracara Conflicts

Everyday down here in Florida, Anna and I go out and search for Crested Caracaras. Our goal is to find adults copulating, nest building, or already on nests. We see loads of caracaras everyday, sometimes up to 20 or 30 at a time! Most are not on nests or breeding just yet and are just in groups foraging or heading to (or coming off) roost. We try to spend quite a bit of time watching each caracara to see what it does and to see if it will lead us to any nests.

While watching these birds we have been able to observe some pretty awesome moments, such as a subadult caracara catching a large snake and then having it stolen by a Black Vulture; two adult caracaras chasing down an Armadillo and then not knowing what to do with it; caracaras picking through cow-pies searching for insects to eat; and caracaras rolling on to their backs while other caracaras beat them up. Of all the things we have seen them do, the thing I love the most is when we see the caracaras interact with other species of birds. They very commonly chase each other around in the air and on the ground, and then also chase vultures and often. One day we watched a caracara chase a a subadult Bald Eagle that came to close to its territory. Below are some photos I took the other day of two instances where a caracara interacted with another species.

This first series of three photos shows a subadult Crested Caracara interacting with a juvenile Peregrine Falcon. I was watching the caracara soaring on a thermal when I noticed the Peregrine soaring nearby. The falcon took a few swings at a Turkey Vulture soaring nearby and then switched its attention to the caracara. An aerial dogfight ensued for about a minute as the falcon chased the caracara through the sky, cartwheeling through the air. But then the tables were turned and the caracara got behind the falcon and began to chase it out of view.

Peregrine Falcon diving at Crested Caracara

Peregrine Falcon chasing a Crested Caracara

Crested Caracara chasing a Peregrine Falcon

This next series of photos occured yesterday morning when we spotted a subadult Crested Caracara flying out of a Longleaf Pine and heading towards a Great Blue Heron perched on a snag. It appeared as if the caracara wanted the heron’s perch but the heron wouldnt give it up, no matter how many times the caracara dove at, and harassed the heron. Finally, after about two minutes, the caracara gave up and flew away and the heron remained on its high perch, looking quite proud.

The battle began with an intense stare down between the two birds.

The Crested Caracara taking a swing at the Great Blue Heron

The Crested Caracara flying away in defeat as the Great Blue standsd proudly on its successfully defended perch.