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The northern crested caracara (Caracara cheriway), also called the northern caracara or crested caracara, is a bird of prey in the family Falconidae. It was formerly considered conspecific with the southern caracara (C. plancus) and the extinct Guadalupe caracara (C. lutosa) as the "crested caracara". It has also been known as the Audubon's caracara. As with its relatives, the northern caracara was formerly placed in the genus Polyborus. Unlike the Falco falcons in the same family, the caracaras are not fast-flying aerial hunters, but are rather sluggish and often scavengers. It is the national bird of Mexico. The crested caracara occurs from Tierra del Fuego in southernmost South America north to the southern United States, Mexico, and Central America. An isolated population occurs on the Falkland Islands. It avoids the Andean highlands and dense humid forest, such as the Amazon rainforest, where it is largely restricted to relatively open sections along major rivers. Otherwise, it occurs in virtually any open or semi-open habitat and is often found near humans.



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