The Yellow-headed Caracara, Milvago chimachima, is a bird of prey in the family Falconidae. Unlike the Falco falcons in the same family, the caracaras are not fast-flying aerial hunters, but are rather sluggish and often scavengers.
The Yellow-headed Caracara is a resident breeding bird from Costa Rica and perhaps Nicaragua - which were recently colonized by the bird, according to the Peregrine Fund database - Trinidad and Tobago south through South America to northern Argentina (the provinces of Misiones, Chaco, Formosa, Corrientes and Santa Fe). It is typically found from sea level to 1,800 m, occasionally to 2,600 m. In southern Argentina, it is replaced by a close relative, the Chimango Caracara (Milvago chimango), whose range overlaps with that of the Yellow-headed Caracara in southern Brazil.
This is a bird of savannah, swamps and forest edges, which lays one or two brown-marked buff eggs in a stick nest in a tree.
The Yellow-headed Caracara is 41-46 cm long and weighs 325g on average. It is broad-winged and long-tailed. The adult has a buff head, with a black streak behind the eye, and buff underparts. The upperparts are brown with distinctive pale patches on the flight feathers of the wings, and the tail is barred cream and brown.The female is larger than the male, weighing 310 to 360 g, against his 280 to 330 g.
The sexes are similar, but immature birds are mottled with brown below. The voice of this species is a characteristic screamed schreee.
The Yellow-headed Caracara is omnivorous, and will eat reptiles, amphibians and other small animals as well as carrion. It will also take ticks from cattle, and is locally called "tickbird"?.
The Yellow-headed Caracara has benefited from forest clearing for cattle ranching. Its status in Trinidad has changed from rare to fairly common, and it was first seen on Tobago in 1987. It adapts readily to urban areas and, after the American Black Vulture, is the most easily seem bird of prey in Latin American cities.