Analysis of regurgitated pellets of Caracara cheriway (Northern Crested Caracara) at a site in south-central Florida produced a wide variety of insects and spiders from 34 families and at least 72 genera. Species identified occur in dung, on carrion, and in both aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Some taxa identified are known to be chemically protected, and their consumption exposes Northern Crested Caracaras to a broad diversity of chemical deterrents: 1,4-benzoquinones, isoprenoids, carboxylic acids, esters, aldehydes, an alcohol, and ammonia, for example. Other species identified in pellets indicate that Northern Crested Caracaras likely experience other noxious substances, such as those produced by species with dischargeable defensive glands (i.e., formic acid), plant-derived deterrents ejected when the insects are disturbed, and venom produced by those that sting (i.e., piperidine alkaloids). Our collection of pellets represents only part of one year; therefore, the list of noxious chemicals ingested by these raptors with their insect food may be even more extensive than is now evident. Further analysis of more pellets and from both breeding season and non-breeding season months is warranted to obtain a more complete picture of this raptor's insect diet.
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