Birds of Colombia

YELLOW-HEADED CARACARA 
PIGUA

Milvago chimachima

The conspicuous yellow-headed caracara is a bird of prey that measures from 41 to 46 cm (16–18 in) in length and weighs 300 to 365 g (11-13 oz) on average. Inhabits in edges of dry and humid forests, ranches, and along rivers. It is often seen in pairs in urban areas perching on rooftops. It is found in all the country from 1000 to 1800 m (3300 – 6000 ft). Apart from the difference in size, there is no marked sexual dimorphism in this species. It is broad-winged and long-tailed both of brown color. The adult has a pale brown head, with a black streak behind the eye, and pale brown colored underparts. The upper plumage is brown with distinctive pale patches on the remiges of the wings, and the brown tail is barred cream and brown. Crown with brown spots. Legs or tarsi green-yellow. The yellow-headed caracara is onmivorous and feeds on fruit, invertebrates, animals, and sometimes carrion. It produces strong and strident sounds. It stands high on tree branches to observe animals to prey on. It feeds on insects, frogs, fish, small animals, grains and sometimes carrion. It sits on the back of cattle to look for ticks. Hence, it is often called ‘tickbird’. It also walks on ground looking for available food. The clutch is from 5 to 7 cream-colored eggs spotted with brownish tones that are incubated for 27 days.

La pigua o Milvago chimachima es un ave conspicua, rapaz y carroñera que mide de 41 a 46 cm de longitud. Su peso fluctua entre los 300 a 365 g. Habita en bordes de bosques, potreros y a lo largo de ríos. Se la encuentra en todo el país desde los 1000 hasta los 1800 m de altura excepto el departamento de Nariño localizado en el sur. El plumaje de sus partes superiores es café. Cabeza, cuello y partes inferiores blanco crema. Coronilla levemente salpicada de marrón. Una raya café oscura atraviesa la zona ocular. Area alrededor del ojo es amarillo. Tiene alas marron oscuro y cola larga redondeada. Las plumas dorsales castaño oscuro y la cola presenta barras onduladas blancas. De pico azul pálido en el adulto y crema en el juvenil. De patas o tarsos color verde amarillento. En vuelo deja ver grandes parches blanquecinos en los extremos de las alas. Emite gritos fuertes y estridentes. Percha alto en los árboles para observar su presa. Su dieta generalmente consiste en insectos, ranas, peces, animales pequeños, granos e incluso come carroña. También camina cerca de caminos y orillas de ríos buscando alimento y se posa sobre el ganado para encontrar garrapatas. La postura es de 5 a 7 huevos crema con manchas cafés que incuba hasta los 27 días.

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