Sunday, 17 March 2013
Caracara compare and contrast
On the smaller islands in the Falklands, Striated Caracaras (known locally as Johnny Rooks) are a constant presence, either hanging round on the edge of the penguin colonies in search of food (dead penguins, preferably), or staking out the few houses, and the tourists, in expectation of a rich harvest of food scraps.
This can give the impression that they're plentiful, but in fact they're one of the world's rarer birds of prey. On the two main islands, they're far less common and you're more likely to see Crested Caracaras, and both there and on the South American mainland, they've sometimes been persecuted because of their perceived impact on livestock, especially sheep. It's rather similar to the way Ravens have always been seen over here, and the way Red Kites and other birds of prey are sometimes demonised. I found them endlessly fascinating, though - they're a raptor with the mind of a corvid. They're not small, either - think Buzzard in terms of size.
Below is one of the Chimango Caracaras that we saw in the park in Santiago on our way home. They're much smaller - in this case, think Kestrel or Sparrowhawk for comparison. They were a little more nervous than the Johnny Rooks (although not much more), but there was no shortage of them at all, strutting around on the grass.