Chimango Caracara (Milvago chimango)

Chimango Caracara

[order] FALCONIFORMES | [family] Falconidae | [latin] Milvago chimango | [authority] Vieillot, 1816 | [UK] Chimango Caracara | [FR] Caracara chimango | [DE] Chimangokarakara | [ES] Caracara Chimango | [NL] Chimango


Monotypic species


A south American bird of prey, resembling both the eagles and the vultures. The caracaras act as scavengers, and are also called carrion buzzards. The genus comprises of two species. They are characteristic of open prairies and savannas.

Physical charateristics

A typical Chimango has a mantle and back edged with cinnamon brown feathers and white. Neck, chest, abdomen and belly light brown. Head dark brown. It is the smallest variety of caracara. Wings dark brown stripe and white in the basal half of the primaries. The tail is light brown with dark brown terminal band. Eyes are brown. Peak color based clearer. Legs are light gray in the male and yellowish in the female.

Listen to the sound of Chimango Caracara

[audio: Caracara.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

recorded by Bernabe Lopez-Lanus

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 38 cm size max.: 42 cm
incubation min.: 26 days incubation max.: 28 days
fledging min.: 32 days fledging max.: 34 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 3  


South America : Southern Cone. Southern Brazil and northern Chile south to Tierrra del Feugo and southern Agentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.


Occurs in open areas of lowlands, including savannas, cultivated fields, marshes, ocean beaches, and around towns. It is the most commn raptor species in some cities, including Santiago. Often spends the night on ground in large flocks. It is attracted to burned-over areas and follows plows in large flocks. Frequently occurs in flocks of 30 or more birds.


Nests are typically located 5-15 meters high in the crotch or top of a small tree. They are cup-shaped structures, made of dead sticks and lined with soft materials, including grass, horsehair, wool, and rags. Clutch size is 2-4 eggs, with a creamy-white ground color and strongly suffused with reddish-brown pigment. Both sexes participate in nest-building, incubation, feeding the young, and defending the nest. On Chiloe Island off Chile, the incubation period was approximately 32 days, but it was only 26-27 days in Argentina. The nestling period in the Chiloe study was 41 days at one nest.

Feeding habits

A dietary opportunist. Feeds on carrion of all sorts, especially road kills, picks ticks off the backs of cattle, steals turtle eggs on beaches, takes bird eggs and nestlings, and will even attack adult birds. Also takes small rodents, insects (mainly orthopterans), worms, small fish, shrimp, and even toads, which are shunned by many predators. May forage in city dumps, or around any sort of human habitation on a variety of trash and refuse.

Video Chimango Caracara


copyright: J. del Hoyo


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Chimango Caracara status Least Concern


Partial migrant. Isolated individuals in Brazil migrate well to the north of their usual nesting areas. Its movements in Argentina seem complex, with apparently resident birds in some areas and seasonal movements in others. Birds breeding in the Cuyan, Patagonian, and Fuegian zones of Argentina migrate northward along the Andes in the non-breeding season to northern Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru, and those breeding in central Argentina also migrate northward at least to Brazil. The Tierra del Fuego population and the Argentina population of M.c. temucoensis migrate northward to Catamarca, Tucuman, and Salta in the non-breeding season.

Distribution map

Chimango Caracara distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *