The Northern-crested Caracara


Northern-crested Caracara

Yucatan, Mexico

1/250s @ f/5.6 ISO 1600 @ 280mm (200mm + TC 1.4x)

The Northern-crested Caracara is a large raptor indigenous to Latin America.  There have been some sightings of this bird in the American Southwest, but they are most common in Mexico and Central America.  This particular specimen, in Yucatan, was roosting in deep shade during the late morning hours, and probably had eaten recently.  My next sighting of a Caracara was down in southern Nicaragua, in a field adjacent to the jungles surrounding the Rio San Juan.

As (bad) luck would have it I didn’t have my 400mm super-telephoto lens with me, and had to make do with my 70-200mm zoom lens with a TC 1.4x attached.  This extended my effective focal length (FL) to 280mm with only minimal loss of image quality (IQ).  He was about 30-yards (90-feet) away, so I ended up having to crop the final image fairly tight (however this image has sufficient resolution to make a nice print).  This image, and others, are available at Indochine Photography

Even though he was in deep shade, his head and shoulders were nicely illuminated with natural, warm, morning light.  I was even lucky enough to get get a catch light in his eye, and he ruffled his feathers at just the right time.  How lucky was that?  The ruffled feathers, along with the great light, resulted in lots of feather detail and pleasing colors.

I used spot-metering to properly expose the subject, and that allowed the background to recede into natural, deep shadow.  Shooting wide-open at f/5.6 (f/4 + 1.4x) provided just enough bokeh to throw the background softly out of focus.  My shutter speed of 1/250s was just a tad slower than I would have liked without image stabilization (IS), but I braced my shot and the sharpness is certainly acceptable considering the tight crop.  Viewed at 100% there is minimal noise (graininess) in the dark background, but again my camera (Canon 5D Mark II) handled it very well.

This image was selected by the senior curators at to be featured on Page One.  A real honor considering that some of the world’s best photographers can be found at

Antigua Steve WEB

Stephen F. Dennstedt

Photographer, Writer and World Traveler

Currently in South America



2 responses to “The Northern-crested Caracara

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