Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Crested Caracara - Caracara plancus
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General Comments The Crested Caracara is essentially a non-migratory "falcon" of dry grasslands, prairies, ranchlands, and deserts, mainly from TX and AZ southward into the tropics. A disjunct population occurs in central FL. Despite it being a rather sedentary species, populations appear to be slowly increasing, at least in TX, and as a result there have been quite a few records, probably mostly of immature birds, straying far to the north and east of the usual range. Most states in the eastern United States now have records. Actually, NC had its first published record in 1972, but later research found out that a bird had escaped from a VA zoo not far away and not too much earlier. Then, in early 2015 a non-birder reported a Crested Caracara in the Coastal Plain, but without a photo or thorough written details, the report was considered "unresolved" by the NC BRC. Fortunately, a juvenile was seen in the Buxton (Dare) area from 17 Jun - 12 Jul 2016* [Chat 80:144 link], [Chat 80:146 link]; and it was photographed and observed by many dozens of birders. The NC BRC voted to accept this caracara as a wild individual, and thus the species has been placed on the Definitive List based on accepted photos.
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank SA
Global Rank G5
Coastal Plain One definitive record, and two other non-accepted reports (see above).
Piedmont No records.
Mountains No records.
Finding Tips
1/2 *
Attribution LeGrand[2021-07-12], LeGrand[2018-02-01], LeGrand[2017-04-25]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all known species.