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8 Apr, 11 tweets

🧵 A thread 🧵

10 facts about the caracara from @JonathanMeiburg’s A MOST REMARKABLE CREATURE 🦅✨

@JonathanMeiburg 1. The ten species of birds called caracaras are members of the falcon family that live throughout South America; at least one species thrives in every part of the continent.

@JonathanMeiburg 2. Some species of caracaras can be found in North America; crested caracaras are common in parts of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and south Florida and as far north as New York, Seattle, and Vancouver.

@JonathanMeiburg 3. The oldest known painting of a caracara is a watercolor image of a striated caracara by the naturalist George Forster, who saw them in Tierra del Fuego while traveling with Captain James Cook in 1775.

@JonathanMeiburg 4. The word “caracara” probably derives from the distinctive, dry karruk-karruk call of the most common and widespread species: the crested caracara or “carancho.”

@JonathanMeiburg 5. Caracara oranges were first cultivated at Rancho Caracara, a farm in Valencia, Venezuela presumably named for these birds.

@JonathanMeiburg 6. In the Inca empire, only the emperor was permitted to wear caracara feathers in his royal headpiece, the mascapaicha.

@JonathanMeiburg 7. The sacred birds the Aztecs called cuahtlis, which showed them where to place their capital of Tenochtitlán, were probably crested caracaras—which means the eagle depicted on the Mexican flag is a caracara in disguise.

@JonathanMeiburg 8. Caracaras have a knack for solving complex problems and learning from one another; one species has been seen working in teams to flip heavy rocks in the high Andes.

@JonathanMeiburg 9. A captive striated caracara named Tina, who spent her entire life in the UK, demonstrated the ability to distinguish objects by shape and color, and knew a set of stuffed animals by name.

@JonathanMeiburg 10. Striated caracaras suffered from persecution in the 20th century in the Falklands; today there are about as many striated caracaras as there are giant pandas.

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