So, the Crested Caracara seems to have finally made its way south as far as Cape May. It spent about an hour around the canal bridge, before heading off to the north, persued by local crows. Given the direction it headed, around 4:20PM, it's possible that it may have gone to roost at the regular vulture roost which is situated in trees right beside the Lower Township recycling depot on Rt 626, just opposite the east end of Academy Road. An early search tomorrow will hopefully reveal its whereabouts. (As I write this, Richard Crossley just reported the bird at this very spot - just after 5PM.)
I never imagined seeing a shiny bright, adult Crested Caracara, with the Cape May Canal as a backdrop! The intense color of the bare parts and heavy black tones to the plumage indicate that this is an adult bird [photo by Mike Crewe].
Our visitor was not so popular with the local American Crows... [photo by Mike Crewe].
In flight, caracaras are distinctive, having a rather heavy head and bill and with long, straight wings and a long tail, giving the bird the look of a flying cross. Note the white wing patches in the wings too [photo by Mike Crewe].
Whether wild or not, this is a great bird to see - even Dave our UPS guy stopped for a quick look this afternoon! I know where Cape May's birders are going to be first thing tomorrow morning!!
Oh, and why Mexican Eagle? Well, it has long been suggested that the eagle on Mexico's crest and coat of arms is a Crested Caracara, based mostly on the fact that the bird is catching a snake (typical caracara behavior). However, the eagle on the crest is usually portrayed colored brown and has feathered legs, while the base of its bill is yellow, not orange. Thus, the proud Mexican emblem is more likely to be a Golden Eagle - though why it's toying with a snake is anyone's guess!