A bird with multiple personalities

Taken near Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico during a recent photography excursion to photograph the natural history of the region with Marlin Harms and Dennis Sheridan. One of the birds on my photography bucket list. We saw many of these birds poised atop Cardon cactus. It was a thrill to finally get the opportunity to see and capture one in the wild.

One of the most interesting characters in the animal kingdom is living among us here in Los Cabos. We are talking about a medium-sized raptor with a bold white and black plumage pattern, and a bright yellow face and legs.

This bird, due to the conditions of the ecosystems it inhabits, presents various and unique adaptations. This bird lives solitary or with its mate, who stays loyal for all its life like most falcons and eagles do. It is the only falcon that nests and it usually does this on rocks or small bushes.

It feeds on small rodents, lizards and other birds, but its principal meal comes from carrion. The Crested Caracara, Mexican Eagle or Quelele also plays the role of a buzzard, taking any chance to have a feast on the carcasses of dead animals. This contributes to the cleansing process, which is very important in the desert environment where dryness makes the rotting process impossible. One of its principal adaptations is the lengthening of the legs which allows it to walk or even run, making it unique among all falcons.

The Caracaras were persecuted for a long time, almost to the point of extinction in several states because people used to believe that they stole the calves of cattle. Recently they have become a protected species and some populations are becoming stable again.

So do not lose the chance of exploring all these wonders and remember to keep your eyes open.

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