FWC Educates Floridians About Threatened Crested Caracara
By Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission // August 19, 2015
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE FLORIDA – No, this bird isn’t wearing a toupee and necklace!
What’s crested, black and white and found in Florida? The crested caracara, of course! You may have seen this animal hunting around shallow ponds or marshes for food or spotted one on fence posts waiting to catch dinner.
As a member of the falcon family, the caracara is a strong flier but spends much of its time on the ground in order to scratch and dig for insects or hunt in shallow marshes. Similar to the size of an osprey, caracaras are identified by their bold patterns, naked faces, heavy bills and crest.
The Crested Caracara is a resident of the prairies and range lands of south-central Florida. At one time, caracaras were common in the prairies of central Florida, but their numbers declined as favored habitat was converted to housing developments, citrus groves and improved pastures.
Today, both the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service list the caracara as Threatened.
This species is most abundant in a six-county area north and west of Lake Okeechobee (DeSoto, Glades, Hendry, Highlands, Okeechobee and Osceola counties). Their stronghold is privately held ranch land, and biologists are working with landowners to better understand the needs of caracaras and the many wild animals dependent on these upland prairies.
Consider a visit to Forever Florida and the Crescent J Ranch, a private wilderness preserve and working cattle ranch near St. Cloud. Call 888-957-9794 for more information.