The crested caracara, also sometimes called the northern caracara, is a raptor that lives primarily in Mexico, Central America, and northern portions of South America. The northern part of their range extends up into Texas, southern Arizona and parts of southern Florida. These birds where photographed on our trip to south Texas back in 2010.
The crested caracara is a member of the Falcondae, or falcon, family, but they are very different then the rest of the falcons that we see here in North America. When we think of falcons we think of birds that are built for speed, many of which hunt other birds in flight. The crested caracara acts much more like a vulture. You are much more likely to see carcara soaring up in the sky in search of carrion then you are to see one chasing down prey. The reason why the two birds pictured above look differently is because the top photo is a mature adult caracara while the second photo is an immature bird.