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Striated Caracara

Phalcoboenus australis

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53 - 65cm

1.1 - 1.3m

1.2 - 2.3kg

20 - 30 yrs

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The striated caracara is a bird of prey in the falcon family, Falconidae. Unlike other falcons, they are comparatively slow and will often scavenge amongst livestock. This behaviour has earnt them a somewhat poor reputation in their native Falkland Islands, where they are often known as the “Johnny rook”.

Near Threatened

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NT

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As the nickname “Johnny rook” would suggest, they are similar in appearance to a large corvid species, with plumage that is almost black in its entirety besides subtle hints of dark brown and flecks of grey, particularly around the neck. However, juveniles have a reddish-orange down which they lose after their first moult.

What Does it Look Like?

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What Does it Sound Like?

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Their calls are loud and raucous, with the primary purpose being for proclaiming a territory or defending against potential intruders. Whilst performing these vocalisations, it will often throw back its head to the point where it almost touches its back. When disturbed, they are capable of making grumbling or clicking sounds to show annoyance.

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As it is a scavenger, it feeds mostly on animal carcasses. However, it will also target living prey that is weak or injured and has a habit of attacking newborn lambs, leading to persecution by sheep farmers. As one of the most intelligent birds of prey, it is capable of moving rocks and dustbin lids to reach food hidden underneath.

What Does it Eat?

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Where Does it Nest?

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It nests on the ground, typically by the edge of a cliff, where the female lays up to four eggs. To ensure the chicks have a constant food supply, their hatching is timed to coincide with the nesting season of seabirds, which form a large part of their diet. After the chicks fledge, they form large flocks and roam the islands, staying close to human settlements.

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Its range is extremely limited, found south of Argentina and Chile on Tierra del Fuego, Isla de los Estados, Navarino and Cape Horn, as well as the Falkland Islands. However, it is considered a rare sight even in these isolated places. It tends to gravitate towards low-lying, coastal areas such as rocky cliffsides and mountains.

Where Does it Live?

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What is its Status?

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It was once heavily persecuted on the Falklands Islands, but it has since been protected under law. That said, the population is thought to be no more than 2,500 individuals, making it amongst the rarest of all raptor species. However, as this small population is stable and there are no further causes for concern, it is not yet considered particularly threatened.

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