Fun Black Caracara Facts For Kids

Arpitha Rajendra
Feb 29, 2024 By Arpitha Rajendra
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Shray Sharma
Discover interesting black caracara facts.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.9 Min

The black caracara bird (Daptrius ater) of the Falconidae family is a bird of prey. They are usually spotted near rivers and the lowlands of French Guiana and the Amazon rainforest. The local name of these birds in the Republic of Suriname is 'Ger' futu busikaka'. They are referred to as 'juápipi' by the indigenous people of Enberá in Colombia and Panama. Gaviao-deAntais is the name given to this species of bird by German-Brazilian ornithologist Helmut Sick. It translates to 'tapir-hawk.' These birds do not migrate and they often stay in the tropics year-round. The genus Daptrius is monotypic, and red-throated caracara is a close relative of this species. These birds are opportunistic feeders and omnivores. They are also predators, scavengers, and foragers. Louise Jean Pierre Vieillot first discovered the black caracara (Daptrius ater) in 1816. Previously, it shared the genus Daptrius with red-throated caracaras (Ibycter americanus). Recently, these two species were separated because they differed in genus and have no common ancestor. Yellow-headed caracara (Milvago chimachima) is the closest relative to black caracaras (Daptrius ater).

If you find these facts about black caracaras interesting, then you might also enjoy reading our articles on guinea fowl and purple sandpipers.

Black Caracara Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a black caracara?

The black caracara (Daptrius ater) is a species of the Falconidae family. Black caracaras are usually spotted alone but they live in pairs and groups. These birds fly in straight patterns. They walk along rivers, perch on tall trees, and continuously flap their wings while flying. They have been spotted on and around tapirs and capybaras. Caracaras pick and eat ticks from these animals. It is also observed that tapirs call out for caracaras and stay still to facilitate the removal of ticks. They are spotted around human settlements and hunt for fish in rivers.

What class of animal does a black caracara belong to?

This caracara bird species belong to the Aves class of animals.

How many black caracaras are there in the world?

Black caracara birds can be found in a wide range of places. This means that the exact number of this species around the world keeps fluctuating between 1,000 to 10,000.

Where does a black caracara live?

The black caracara range is from South America to Amazonia. Black caracara populations can be found in Brazil, north Bolivia, French Guiana, Ecuador, east Colombia, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela, and Peru.

What is a black caracara's habitat?

A black caracara's habitat range includes tropical and subtropical middle elevations and lowlands, forest edges, tall trees, ranches, forest openings, and wooded savanna. They prefer living in habitats between 0-2953 ft (0-900 m) high. They are often found in tall trees near rivers.

Who do black caracaras live with?

Black caracaras normally live in pairs, but they can sometimes be seen in a group of three to four birds.

How long does a black caracara live?

The data on the lifespan of black caracara birds is unknown. However, other caracara species live for more than 10 years.

How do they reproduce?

A black caracara's nest observed in Brazil was a stick structure and it was placed in the crown of a tree. In Ecuador, another black caracara nest was found in a palm tree.  A caracara's nest is 23-27 in (60-70 cm) long and the eggs are white with reddish-brown pigments. Females lay up to four eggs. The pair makes more than one nesting attempt and creates a territory. There is limited information about the breeding process of caracaras.

What is their conservation status?

Caracara birds are listed as Least Concern by the IUCN. In most regions, the status is not well-defined. In Venezuela and Ecuador, the population of caracaras is increasing. Caracara birds occupy cleared areas around the world, so deforestation is not an issue for them. In French Guiana, they occupy only a few parts and the reason for their decline in this country is due to hunting. The number of these birds is stable.

Black Caracara Fun Facts

What does a black caracara look like?

An adult black caracara bird description is a glossy black body and wings with a white band on the base of its tail. The facial skin and legs are orange-red to yellow. Young birds have dull black plumage and wings with pale yellow facial skin. Their flight feathers have three to four black bars. This species of caracaras are very similar to red-throated caracaras based on their facial skin and plumage color. The differences between these two birds include the wings, tail, beak, and distinctive red throat that red-throated caracaras have.

Close-up of the back of the head of a crested caracara bird.

*Please note that this is an image of a crested caracara, one of the relative species of black caracaras. If you have a royalty-free image of a black caracara please let us know at 

How cute are they?

This bird species is completely black with an orange face. Many people think that they are not cute, especially when they release their loud shrieking calls.

How do they communicate?

These species communicate with one another with a harsh scream or a single note 'kraaa', which occurs during flight. They do not have diverse calls, however, the length and volume of their calls vary.

How big is a black caracara?

This species is 16.1-18.5 in (41-47 cm) long including its tail. Females are larger than males.

How fast can a black caracara fly?

The caracaras are fast-flying birds. The exact speed of their flight is unknown. These birds are considered to be sedentary and do not migrate.

How much does a black caracara weigh?

The average weight of this species is 0.72-0.97 lb (0.33-0.44 kg). The average weight of a female is 0.77-0.97 lb (0.35-0.44 kg) and the average male weighs  0.72lb (0.33 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names given to females or males of this caracara species.

What would you call a baby black caracara?

There is no specific name given to a baby black caracara. They are often referred to as juveniles.

What do they eat?

Black caracaras are omnivorous and opportunistic feeders, feeding on a variety of food. This species is known to search for an easy meal. They have been spotted feeding on carrions. Their diet also includes flycatchers, pigeons, nestlings, and fledglings of other birds, frogs, reptiles, fish, nuts, and fruits. They have developed great hunting strategies. They directly attack the nests of other birds and search for insects with their beaks. They also catch flycatchers in flight.

Are they dangerous?

No. They are not dangerous to humans. They are quite comfortable scavenging on roads in the presence of humans.

Would they make a good pet?

No, these birds are wild creatures. Only experienced professionals can train and handle them.

Did you know...

The adult population of black caracara birds in the world is 670 to 6,700.

A black caracara (Daptrius ater) often hunts for fish that are members of the Characidae family in fast-moving rivers.  

Is a caracara a falcon?

The caracara bird belongs to the Falconidae family and is usually placed with forest falcons. They are sometimes placed in their subfamily called Caracarinae or the Falconinae, the true Falcon subfamily. A caracara is also a raptor as it has sharp talons, good eyesight, and is a carnivore.

What does a caracara sound like?

A black caracara (Daptrius ater) bird uses a distinctive in-flight shriek that sounds like 'kraaa'.  This shriek is only used when they are in flight and is repeated many times. This same shriek varies in duration and volume.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including the Inca dove or great cormorant.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our crested caracara coloring pages.

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Written by Arpitha Rajendra

Bachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

Arpitha Rajendra picture

Arpitha RajendraBachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

With a background in Aeronautical Engineering and practical experience in various technical areas, Arpitha is a valuable member of the Kidadl content writing team. She did her Bachelor's degree in Engineering, specializing in Aeronautical Engineering, at Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology in 2020. Arpitha has honed her skills through her work with leading companies in Bangalore, where she contributed to several noteworthy projects, including the development of high-performance aircraft using morphing technology and the analysis of crack propagation using Abaqus XFEM.

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