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  • Common Name (English): Yellow-headed Caracara
  • Scientific Name: Milvago chimachima


The word Milvago comes from the Latin “milvus” meaning kite, and “ago” meaning similar or like. Chimachima comes from the local name in Argentina, onomatopoeia Chimachima, for the Milvago chimachima.

Distribution and habitat

Widely distributed throughout South America, reaching as far north as Argentina and Uruguay, this species can reach up to 39cm in length. As is common in the falconiformes family, the females are larger and heavier than the males; however, there is no sexual dimorphism that can be seen with the naked eye.

The habitat of Milvago Chimachima is usually in open grasslands, wooded plains and also at the foot of the Andes, where it can be observed perched in branches of trees of medium height, or also at ground level, usually near watercourses.

This bird of prey has a very diverse diet, including fruits, vegetables, small vertebrates, fish, crabs, amphibians, tadpoles and carrion. It is very common to see the yellow-headed caracara perched on farm animals, especially cattle, which it purges of bloodsucking, disease-transmitting parasites.

There is a notable difference between juveniles and adults, which is perfectly represented in the image chosen for this sample. The photo illustrates a juvenile attempting to snatch a piece of carrion from an adult (the individual at the top of the photograph is the juvenile).

It should be noted that studies carried out in Cologne on this species determined that only the adults have the capacity to fish and eat the ticks that they obtain from the symbiotic relationship with certain farm and wild animals.

The nest of Milvago chimachima is made from medium-sized branches and plant material such as dry leaves, built at the top of medium-height trees. Its clutch consists of 2 eggs, and parental care is provided by one of the adults, who remains either in the nest or very close to it.

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