IUCN threat status:

Extinct (EX)


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Guadalupe caracara

The Guadalupe caracara (Caracara lutosa) or mourning caracara is an extinct bird of prey belonging to the falcon family (Falconidae).[2] It was, together with the closely related crested and southern caracara, formerly placed in the genus Polyborus. It was also known as the quelili or the calalie.[3]

Distribution and taxonomy[edit]

This species inhabited Mexico's Guadalupe Island until the beginning of the 20th century. The crested caracara is sometimes incorrectly referred to as "Guadalupe caracara", because the extinct birds were formerly considered a subspecies of the extant taxon. They were reinstated as a full species in 2000.[4]


Described as "evil" and "vicious" by early observers, it was driven to extinction by a hunting and poisoning campaign led by goat herders on Guadalupe Island. In 1876 the species was common throughout the island.[3] However, in March 1897, only one bird was encountered,[5] but additional members of the species survived. On December 1, 1900 collector Rollo Beck encountered 11 and preserved nine as scientific specimens. He may have shot the last of the caracaras on Guadalupe Island, believing from their fearlessness and ease of finding them that they were common.[6] There was one more (unconfirmed) sighting in 1903;[7] the bird was certainly gone in 1906.[8]

The Guadalupe caracara is one of the few species that were intentionally rendered extinct by humans. In its particular case, it was demanded by goat farmers that the birds were to be killed off as they occasionally fed on young goats (though the role of the caracara as a predator of goats was much exaggerated).[3] It stands to note that its erstwhile home was at that time being devastated by tens of thousands of goats gone feral, leading to the extinction of several endemic species caused by the near-total destruction of habitat.[9]

In an apparent case of coextinction, the ischnoceran louse Acutifrons caracarensis is only known from the Guadalupe caracara.[10]

Around 35 specimens (skins, skeletons and 2 eggs) remain in public collections today.[11] Specimens are available for display in Chicago, Washington, and London.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Caracara lutosa". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "Caracara lutosa". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 7 April 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c Ellis, Richard (2004). No Turning Back: The Life and Death of Animal Species. New York: Harper Perennial. p. 172. ISBN 0-06-055804-0. 
  4. ^ American Ornithologists' Union (2000). "Forty-second supplement to the American Ornithologists' Union Check-list of North American Birds". Auk 117 (3): 847–858. doi:10.1642/0004-8038(2000)117[0847:FSSTTA]2.0.CO;2. 
  5. ^ Kaeding, Henry B. (1905). "Birds from the West Coast of Lower California and Adjacent Islands (Part II)". Condor (journal) 7 (4): 134–138. doi:10.2307/1361667. 
  6. ^ Abbott, C. B. (1933). "Closing history of the Guadalupe Caracara". Condor 35 (1): 10–15. doi:10.2307/1363459. 
  7. ^ Hirschfeld, Eric; Swash, Andy; Still, Robert. The World's Rarest Birds. Princeton, NJ, USA: Princeton University Press. p. 337. ISBN 978-0-691-15596-8. 
  8. ^ Thayer, John E.; Outram Bangs (1 May 1908). "The Present State of the Ornis of Guadaloupe Island". The Condor 10 (3): 101–106. doi:10.2307/1360977. 
  9. ^ León de la Luz, José Luis; Rebman, Jon P.; Oberbauer, Thomas (1 January 2003). "On the urgency of conservation on Guadalupe Island, Mexico: is it a lost paradise?". Biodiversity and Conservation 12 (5): 1073–1082. doi:10.1023/A:1022854211166. 
  10. ^ Mey, Eberhard (1990): Eine neue ausgestorbene Vogel-Ischnozere von Neuseeland, Huiacola extinctus (Insecta, Phthiraptera). Zoologischer Anzeiger 224(1/2): 49–73. [German with English abstract] PDF fulltext
  11. ^ Luther, Dieter (1996): Die ausgestorbenen Vögel der Welt (Die neue Brehm-Bücherei 424) (4th ed.). [in German] Westarp-Wissenschaften, Magdeburg; Spektrum, Heidelberg. ISBN 3-89432-213-6

Further reading[edit]

  • Fuller, Errol (2000): Extinct Birds (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press, Oxford, New York. ISBN 0-19-850837-9
  • Greenway, James C. Jr. (1967): Guadelupe Island Carcara. In: Extinct and Vanishing Birds of the World (2nd ed.): 183–195. Dover Publications, New York.
  • King, Warren B. (ed.) (1981): Endangered Birds of the World; The ICBP Bird Red Data Book: Preamble 8. ISBN 0-87474-584-5


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