Striated Caracara (Phalcoboenus australis)

Striated Caracara

[order] FALCONIFORMES | [family] Falconidae | [latin] Phalcoboenus australis | [authority] Gmelin, 1788 | [UK] Striated Caracara | [FR] Caracara austral | [DE] Falkland-Karakara | [ES] Caracara Austral | [NL] Falklandcaracara


Monotypic species


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 adults’ plumage is almost black in color, while the legs and lores are orange and the neck is flecked with grey. The first year juveniles have an orange or light red down, which they lose after their first molt. Full adult plumage is acquired only in the fifth year. At birth The down is a striking orange or light reddish colour. First year Very dark brown, almost black with brown flecking on neck. Primaries lighter brown. Legs, feet and face light grey, beak grey with tint of blue. Second year Flecking on neck more obvious. Brown on primaries more rufous. Thin light grey line on top of beak. Third year Flecking spreads to lower neck and breast. Legs, feet and face tend towards yellowish orange, beak becomes more blue-grey. Fourth year Flecking losing brown colouration, becoming light grey. Flags appear reddish-brown. Tail feathers become white-tipped. Fifth year Flecking all light grey. Plumage all darker, losing brown highlights. White bars on the tail tip. Distinctly yellow to orange legs and feet. Face orange or salmon pink, beak clearly blue-grey.

Listen to the sound of Striated Caracara

[audio: Caracara.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

recorded by Budney, Gregory F.

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 53 cm size max.: 65 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 4  


South America : South islands. Phalcoboenus australis is restricted to isolated shores, rookeries and islets off extreme south Argentina and Chile, including the south and east coasts of Isla Grande on Tierra del Fuego, Isla de los Estados, Navarino and Cape Horn, and the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)


It occurs in open lowlands, from the tidal zone perhaps to low coastal mountains, and most typically along rocky coasts, feeding on dead adults and chicks of colonial seabirds, and insects and grubs along the tidal zone. It will attack weak or stranded sheep and, in groups, wild geese


The nest is built on the ground or on a cliff ledge, where the female will lay up to 4 eggs. Their hatching is timed to coincide with the nesting season of seabirds, providing a constant food supply for the chicks. Once these have fledged, they gather into flocks and roam through the islands, often close to human settlements.

Feeding habits

The Falkland Island Caracara is primarily a scavenger, although it will attack weak or disabled creatures, even ones as large as a sheep. It takes land and marine invertebrates, sometimes using its strong legs and blunt, strong claws to dig for them.

Video Striated Caracara


copyright: Laurent Demongin


This species is classified as Near Threatened because it has a moderately small population.
It was heavily persecuted in the past on the Falklands1, and is much reduced in numbers. The immature population is probably only capable of replacing losses in the breeding population, but none of the populations seem to be facing any major threats.
Striated Caracara status Near Threatened



Distribution map

Striated Caracara distribution range map

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