In the Falkland Islands, the ecological role of ravens, crows and vultures is occupied by a falcon, the Striated Caracara.
This is one of the larger members of the falcon family, with a wingspan of about four feet. And you can see those talons aren’t anything you’d want to mess with. In the Falkland Islands, where WC saw this species, they are called Johnny Rook, a nod to the Rook, a species of Eurasian Crow, that occupies a similar ecological niche.
Intelligent, fearless and curious, WC’s problem photographing this bird was that the bird kept walking towards him, too close to photograph. Not a common problem with falcons, WC’s promises you.
This is an omnivore, eating carrion, chicks of other species, infant marine mammals and large insects. It’s clever enough to excavate the burrows where small seabirds nest. But not clever enough to avoid conflicts with humans.
The species has been persecuted by the Falklanders because it preys on weak or injured sheep and lambs. As a result, the world population is down about 500 pairs. Reportedly, the Falklanders are leaving the bird alone now, but the species is near-threatened and is one of rarest – and southernmost dwelling – birds of prey in the world.
For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.