Crested Caracaras — Curiosity

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The most advanced of the young Crested Caracaras showed restlessness, indicating that it soon would fledge and leave the nest cactus.  It moved around the cactus, investigating the immediate environment.  Eventually, it settled on one of the cactus’ massive arms.

Ensconced on that arm, it looked around, checking out not only the cactus, but the surrounding desert.

Eventually, the young Caracara turned its attention to the Saguaro’s blooms. The Saguaro had multiple creamy white flowers.

Something about those blooms fascinated this bird.  It took me a moment to realize that what had caught the bird’s interest wasn’t the flowers but the honeybees that were feeding on the blossoms’ nectar.

The young Caracara watched the bees with apparent great interest.  As I observed it, it made a few tentative stabs with its beak at flying bees, seemingly trying to catch them.

Caracaras are opportunistic carnivores, living by their wits and taking whatever they can find, whether that be insects, small mammals, lizards, or carrion. Caracaras are also known to be highly intelligent.   This young bird was exhibiting curiosity, something that is essential to Caracaras’ ability to fend for themselves.  Hunting skills are something that Crested Caracaras have to learn.  An important part of those skills is the learned ability to distinguish what is edible.  These birds must also learn the techniques for capturing the many different types of prey that they feed upon.  Checking out those bees and making a few tentative efforts at capturing them are definitely part of this young bird’s education.

Images made with a Canon 5Div, 400mm f4 DO II lens+1.4x telextender, stabilized by monopod, M setting (auto ISO), ISO 200, f8 @ 1/640.

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