Sleeping, grooming, crying, and hunting.

This is the Crested Caracara, one of Florida’s falcons.

This bird of Old Florida can be found alongside rural roads, pastures and prairies far away from noisy places.

They are subtropical to tropical falcons found from the Southern extremes of the US all the way to Terra Del Fuego.

Caracaras are stately birds. When found alongside vultures, their regal plumage sets them apart.

Florida Natives used the distinctive tail feather to send a message of war or peace during negotiations. If the white on the tail was painted red, battle was imminent. If no paint and the white was showing, peace.

The state of Florida is home to a relict population of Northern Crested Caracaras that dates to the last glacial period, which ended around 12,500 BP. At that point in time, Florida and the rest of the Gulf Coast was covered in a pine, oak savanna. As temperatures and rainfall increased, the savanna between Florida and Texas disappeared.

Caracaras were able to survive in the prairies of central Florida as well as in the marshes along the St. Johns River. Cabbage palms are a preferred nesting site, although they will also nest in southern live oaks.

Like many species, loss of adequate habitat caused the Florida caracara population to decline, and it was listed as threatened by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in 1987.

The Mexican ornithologist Rafael Martín del Campo proposed that the Northern Crested Caracara was probably the sacred “eagle” depicted in several pre-Columbian Aztec codices as well as the Florentine Codex. This imagery was adopted as a national symbol of Mexico, and is seen on the flag among other places.

We have a long relationship with Caracara. When you watch this film, notice the tender parenting and the delightful behavior of the young. No wonder humans have long held these beautiful creatures in high regard.

We hope you will too.

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