You probably heard of the Mexican eagle if you know anything about birds. This bird is also known as the Crested Caracaras due to its unique black crest crowning its head. Crested Caracaras also have distinct behavior that set them apart from other birds.
This eagle is native to Latin America. Texas is the only place in the United States where you’ll find a booming population of Mexican eagles. However, the bird is also found in small colonies in Florida, New Mexico, and Arizona.
Do you want to find out more about the Mexican eagle? This article will tell you everything you need to know about Mexican eagles, Texas’ native falcons. Stick around!
The Mexican eagle, also known as the Crested Caracara, is a unique-looking falcon that resides in Latin America. Yet, it’s sometimes found in the Southern USA.
Mexican eagles are common in Texas, typically in the southern borders of the state. Alternatively, they won’t make a home out of the prairie regions of north Texas.
The Crested Caracara is probably one of the most beautiful birds out there. For this reason, many bird watchers specifically visit Texas for the chance to spot Mexican eagles.
If you’re lucky, you might even get to spot Mexican eagles in action. They soar through the sky by slowly flapping their wings.
Once they find their prey or carrion, they’ll immediately attack. Even if there are other vultures around, Crested Caracaras are likely to fight them off to seize their prey.
You can easily mistake Crested Caracaras for hawks, especially if you’re far enough. The two birds look entirely different, though.
To start, Mexican eagles have incredibly sharp peaks that are silver in color. In addition, Crested Caracaras have white necks and orange faces, but the top of Mexican eagles’ heads is stark black. This is also known as a crest, from which they get their name.
As for the body, it’s also black, with no spotting or patterns. Their unique look often makes them an interesting subject for bird-watching.
Seeing a Mexican eagle flying around is a rare occurrence. Still, if you know what to look for, you might easily spot these predators in their natural habitat.
Crested Caracaras often live in flocks and stay together in one place for years. They’re the only vultures to make nests and are likely to return to them. So, if there’s a Mexican eagle sighting in one place, chances are, there are other Mexican eagles around!
If you want to watch a Crested Caracara in Texas, head to South Texas Brush Country, Coastal Sand Plain, Coastal Prairies, Southern Post Oak Savannah, and the Blackland Prairies. These regions have confirmed Mexican eagle sightings and breeding records.
Timing is also crucial. That’s because Mexican eagles, like all birds, can move from one territory to the other on a seasonal basis. However, they nest in Texas from January to September.
If you want an even more exact location, Crested Caracaras typically nest between 10 to 30 feet above the ground. You can find their nests in oak, elm, shrubs, or even cactus!
Mexican eagles are incredibly unique, not only due to their appearance but due to their distinctive behavior as well. Unlike other vultures, Mexican eagles are the only ones to make nests out of twigs, branches, and leaves.
Both male and female Caracaras participate in making the nest. They might even reuse the nest, making a home out of it! The female eagle usually lays 1-4 eggs in the nest, and both the male and female take part in egg incubation.
Finally, after about 30 days, the eggs hatch. Then, the family might stay together for months in one flock. After that, the young birds take off to their new flock.
The Crested Caracara often feeds on lizards, snakes, and other live prey. It’s notorious for feasting on carrions. It’s also smart enough to dig up turtle eggs, catch fish in shallow water, and catch escaping animals.
Caracaras often hunt in pairs in the early mornings. Young caracaras often join other immature eagles or non-breeding adults, forming a new, large flock. This gives the younglings an advantage as they won’t have to compete with the ruthless adult eagles for food.
Needless to say, Mexican eagles are quite vicious. In fact, one Mexican eagle can fight off a flock of other vultures for its food.
Even though the Crested Caracaras’ population is decreasing in areas such as Florida and Mexico due to loss of habitat and shooting, that isn’t the case for the birds in Texas.
In fact, the population of Mexican eagles’ is steadily rising in Texas, so much so that they’re practically taking over Texas. This isn’t a cause for concern, though, as Mexican eagles rarely appear in urban areas. If they do, it’s likely that they’re cleaning up animal remains.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Mexican eagles are in the ‘least concern’ category of being endangered. The reason is that they’re incredibly resilient birds who are able to fend for themselves.
Additionally, their social behavior allows them to thrive even in dangerous situations.
Mexican Eagle FAQs
Are Mexican eagles dangerous?
While Mexican eagles can hunt live prey such as snakes and other small animals, they’re unlikely to harm humans. Though this doesn’t mean you should get too close to a Crested Caracara. They’re incredibly territorial and will attack to defend their homes and flock.
Are Mexican eagles protected in Texas?
Yes, it’s illegal to hunt or kill Mexican eagles in Texas. The bird is threatened due to population decline and loss of habitat. Unless there’s a caracara damaging your property, you shouldn’t attempt to hunt this bird. This shouldn’t be a problem since Mexican eagles are incredibly rare to spot.
Are Mexican eagles sacred?
Mexican eagles were once sacred, particularly to the Aztecs. Today though, many Mexicans honor this bird and regard it as Mexico’s national symbol.
- IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: https://www.iucnredlist.org
- Animal Legal and Historical Center: https://www.animallaw.info
- Bird Note: https://www.birdnote.org
- Texas A&M AgriLife Research: https://txtbba.tamu.edu
Christian Linden is a seasoned writer and contributor at Texas View, specializing in topics that resonate with the Texan community. With over a decade of experience in journalism, Christian brings a wealth of knowledge in local politics, culture, and lifestyle. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Texas. When he's not writing, Christian enjoys spending weekends traveling across Texas with his family, exploring everything from bustling cities to serene landscapes.