Striated caracara

The Striated Caracara, Phalcobaenus australis, was one of the more interesting birds we came across. It is classified as “Near threatened” and has been heavily persecuted in the past (Shirihai). They are birds of prey and can be highly inquisitive. We found them reasonably approachable.

Here are a few shots of juveniles on Saunders Island.


This bird is feeding on a small crab.


This bird image below is interesting because it shows the Caracara is clearly ringed (banded to the Americans amongst you) and also carries a tracker pack on its back.


This reflects the concern regarding its status. Indeed I noticed one small group of 3 together all of which were ringed and I guess they were a small family unit that had been ringed on the nest. The female lays 3-4 eggs so this is plausible.

I first saw Striated Caracara in Hampshire. I jest not. They are kept at the Hawk Conservancy near Andover (or were 15 years ago) and I spent many a happy day there and once treated myself to a day out flying Harris Hawks with the team. I imagine the caracaras were part of a breeding programme although I don’t know for sure. Little did I imagine that many years later I would have the joy of seeing them in their natural habitat in the Falklands.


15 thoughts on “Striated caracara

  1. What a stunning bird Andrew. For which you can read those are nice piccies. Why does it have a name that implies it is from Australia? I was going to say it looks like a raptor but then re-read that you had written bird of prey, so I won’t bother stating the obvious. Tarifa is a great place for raptors as it tends to be on one of their routes (can’t remember which way) and similar Gib at some time of year, and needless to state I can’t remember when that is either. Most I ever get to see tends to be sparrowhawks, used to get one in our garden, and there are a few kicking around near our Spanish finca. I find raptors such impressive birds.

    • Australis means Southern in Latin, as I understand it. As the caracaras are found in Southern America and beyond I suspect it is just a broad use. I have done some raptor migration around Tarifa – I was on a holiday to Spain that took in Donana all the way up to the Gredos Mountains – loved it, especially Monfrague (Sp.?). There is an excellent book by Prof. Clive Finlayson of Gib (a FB friend of mine) – Birds of the Strait of Gibraltar. Worth getting as a reference book if nothing else. He is heavily involved with Gorham’s Caves.

      • Hmm, australis didn’t come up in my translations of Virgil’s Aenead at school, that I remember anyway.

        Sounds a great holiday. We were camping in Tarifa and met a couple of keen birders, they used to go every year for a few weeks around Easter. We didn’t see much around Doñana, but there again, we couldn’t go on any tours as we had the dog with us and they aren’t allowed. Would love to have seen the Spanish lynx though.

        Prof F is an excellent source of local info. I’ve been to a couple of his lectures over the road at our local hall (extremely comfortable, would have been easy to go to sleep had the lectures not been interesting). He’s heavily involved in most Gib history/archaeology/natural history!

      • Aha, I did Aenead IX 176-410 (roughly) for O’level. Nisus the bold stood guardian of the gate. 40 years ago but it’s still tucked away.

      • Not sure what number ours was. But I loved it. That rings a bell, but it could just be the phraseology. Anyway, it wasn’t totally useless as when I went on to read Ancient and Medieval History and Archaeology so it was good for inscriptions on monuments and coins. Apparently these days SPQR stands for small profit quick return 😦

  2. Oh the clever thoughts of your commenters. Loved the “social media” by JH. These are great pics ,Andrew. Do you know why these birds have become scarce? That is such a rotten shame. One would think that this bird would have no problem if it happens to inhabit remote areas. It looks so desolate there. I know nothing about this raptor but will do some researching in Sir Google.

    • Part of the problem, if not all of it, Yvonne, was that they were hunted. They have been protected in the Falklands since 1999 and are recovering, thank goodness. Man is remarkably stupid in many ways – witness the almost certain extirpation of the Hen Harrier as a breeding species in England due to ignorant gamekeepers poisoning or otherwise wiping out the entire (breeding) population.

  3. We must have just missed one another as about 15 years ago I took my children to the Hawk Conservancy and sponsored a Secretary Bird as well as flying Harris Hawks 🙂

    • Was the old man still alive then, Craig? He died whilst I was going back and forth. His son (Ashley?) took over but the dad was a real gentleman and character.

  4. Hi Andrew,
    I happened upon your blog while scanning google images for Johnny Rook (Striated Caracara) photos. I am one of the biologists who are actually ringing these birds and I was wondering if you have (or will be willing to) report the rings that you saw on the islands you visited and the date you saw the bird(s)? Other information appreciated would also include if this bird was alone or with others, but that is not as critical. If you haven’t and are willing, I would appreciate the data and you can email it to me at We also appreciate any photos (we would definitely credit you). These data will help us in tracking their movements amongst the islands. Thanks for your time!

    -Melissa Bobowski

    • Hi Melissa,

      I will have a look at my files when I get home or maybe later this week if time is short tonight. If I can read the rings I’ll let you know. You may use my images under a Creative Commons license. Some may be on Flickr. What resolution do you need? We only visited Saunders because we could not land elsewhere. This was the Vavilov trip in Dec/Jan 2012/13. Did they report any sightings? Best, Andrew

I'd be delighted to hear what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s