Mountain Caracara (Phalcoboenus megalopterus)

Mountain Caracara

[order] FALCONIFORMES | [family] Falconidae | [latin] Phalcoboenus megalopterus | [authority] Meyen, 1834 | [UK] Mountain Caracara | [FR] Caracara montagnard | [DE] Bergkarakara | [ES] Caracara Andino | [NL] Andescaracara


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Phalcoboenus megalopterus SA Peru to c Chile


Phalcoboenus is a small genus of birds of prey in the Falconidae family. They are found in barren, open habitats in the Andes, Patagonia and the Falkland Islands. The four species are almost entirely allopatric. The adults are distinctive, with bare yellow, orange or red facial skin and cere, and a black plumage with variable amounts of white. Juveniles are overall brown with pale pinkish-grey facial skin and cere. They are highly opportunistic and typically seen walking on the ground, where they will feed on carrion and virtually any small animal they can catch

Physical charateristics

The Mountain Caracara is a striking black-and-white raptor of the high Andes. It is largely black, with a white belly and white tail tip. The underwing coverts are also white and give this bird a distinctive pattern in flight.

Listen to the sound of Mountain Caracara

[audio: Caracara.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

recorded by Andrew Spencer

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 48 cm size max.: 54 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 3  


South America : Peru to Central Chile


Occurs mostly in the puna zone at 3,500-5,000 m, but descends regularly to the coast in Peru. Occurs mostly in open puna grassland, around montane lakes, in heavily grazed areas, and on recently plowed land. Frequently seen walking, often a pair or an adult with one juvenile together, or occasionally in flocks containing hundreds of birds, and may also roost in large flocks on cliffs.


Nests are large structures of dried guano, placed on rock ledges. Clutch size is usually 2 (occasionally 3) eggs with a creamy-white ground color and a heavy, almost complete suffusion of reddish and dark-brown pigment. In the southern part of the range, eggs are laid in October-November

Feeding habits

An opportunistic feeder, preying on live lizards and rodents, but also feeding in city dumps or sharing carrion with Andean Condors. Frequently found walking on ground, usually singly or in pairs, but sometimes foraging or roosting in large aggregations of hundreds of birds on plowed fields

Video Mountain Caracara


copyright: Josep 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 stable, 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.
Mountain Caracara status Least Concern


Sedentary with some local movement recorded.

Distribution map

Mountain Caracara distribution range map

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