It was thousands of miles from it’s home base of the southern United States and Mexico but the Northern Crested Caracara was spotted galavanting around Bella Coola for several weeks earlier this month, delighting local bird watchers who managed to snap dozens of photos of it.
The Crested Caracara looks like a hawk with its sharp beak and talons, behaves like a vulture, and is technically a large tropical black-and-white falcon. It is instantly recognizable standing tall on long yellow-orange legs with a sharp black cap set against a white neck and yellow-orange face.
The Crested Caracara is a bird of open country and reaches only a few states in the southern U.S. It flies low on flat wings, and routinely walks on the ground.
A common subject of folklore and legends throughout Central and South America, the Crested Caracara is sometimes called the “Mexican eagle.” Fittingly, the bird is the national emblem of Mexico.
Crested Caracaras are not shy or reclusive and are generally easy to spot in the open landscapes they inhabit. They frequently perch on the tallest tree or structure around and fly low over the ground with their wings held flat.
The lone Caracara visiting the Valley was spotted hunting several times at Dean Mecham’s field up on Hammer Road. Local birders have stated that there have been several unusual bird sightings this year including the Lazuli Bunting, Western Meadowlark, and an Osprey but nothing as exotic as the Caracara.