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Caracara a bird of pray

These include hawks, eagles, kites, falcons, caracaras and the osprey, all of which hunt for food and are collectively called raptors. About 50 species have been recorded in Costa Rica, and many are hard to tell apart because of similar plumage and flight. Being hunters, they rely on stealth and speed, which makes them hard to observe closely; identification is difficult without binoculars. Raptors are, however common throughout the country. Caracaras are among the most frequently seen and easily identified ones.

Apart from hunting small rodents, reptiles and amphibians, the crested caracara (caracara cargahuesos; Polyborus plancus) also eats carrion and is often seen feeding on road kill, rather like a vulture. Its plumage, however, quickly separates it from the vultures. It has a black body and wings, with a white face and neck merging to a black-and-white barred chest and upper back. The tail is barred and tipped with black as well. The front of its face is read, the cap is black, and the legs are yellow.

The distinctive yellow-headed caracara (caracara cabecigualdo Milvago chimachima) has a buff body and head with a dark brown back. In flight, the underside of the wings is buff with black primaries and a large pale 'window' at the end of the wings. Although not recorded in Costa Rica until 1973, it is now quite common on the Pacific slope, especially the Corcovado area.

Pictures by Angela and Jörn Malek. The team of Discovery Travel World wishes you the best of times in our little paradise called Costa Rica.

Text by Lonely Planet.

Picture 1, Caracaras, Costa RicaPicture 2, Caracaras, Costa Rica
Picture 3, Caracaras, Costa RicaPicture 4, Caracaras, Costa Rica