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Yellow-headed Caracara - BirdForum Opus

(Redirected from Milvago chimachima)
Adult, nominate subspecies
Photo © by Deca
Gonalves, MG, Brazil, 31 October 2004
Milvago chimachima


41-46 cm (16-18 in)

  • Buff head
  • Black streak behind the eye
  • Buff underparts
  • Brown upperparts
  • Pale patches on the flight feathers
  • Tail barred cream and brown

Sexes similar but the female is slightly larger than the male.
Immature birds are heavily mottled with brown and buff.


The northern subspecies M. c. cordata averages darker buff head and underparts, narrower dark tail bands, and less white in its wing compared to the paler nominate race in the southern part of its range.

Juvenile, subspecies cordata
Photo © by DABS
Orange Grove, Trinidad, 8 May 2018


Central and South America: breeds in south-west Costa Rica and Panama and in South America from Colombia, Venezuela and the Guianas south to Paraguay and southern Brazil and west to Ecuador, eastern Peru and eastern Bolivia. Common in much of range.


Forms a superspecies with Chimango Caracara.


Two subspecies are recognized:[1]

  • M.c. cordata:
  • M.c. chimachima:


Wooded savanna, open woodland and forest edge.



The diet includes reptiles, amphibians, small animals and carrion; it takes ticks from cattle.


Nests in a stick platform in the top of a tree. Occasionally uses the old nest of other species. Clutch is 2 white eggs suffused with buffy or reddish-brown color.


Most common call is a loud descending whistle.


A resident species.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Bierregaard, R.O., Jr, Kirwan, G.M. & Boesman, P. (2018). Yellow-headed Caracara (Milvago chimachima). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/53194 on 10 January 2018).
  3. Blake, E.R. (1977) Manual of Neotropical Birds, Vol. 1. Univ. Chicago Press.
  4. Yellow-headed Caracara (Milvago chimachima), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: https://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/Species-Account/nb/species/yehcar1
  5. Global Raptor Information Network. 2019. Species account: Yellow-headed Caracara Milvago chimachima. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org/grin/SpeciesResults.asp?specID=8067 on 13 Aug. 2019
  6. Schulenberg, T. S. & Stotz, D. F. & Lane, D. F. & O'Neill, J. P. & Parker III, T. A. & Egg, A. B. (2010). Birds of Peru: Revised and Updated Edition. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0691130231

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