These young Striated Caracaras checking out our team's kit as we were preparing to leave Steeple Jason (Falkland Islands) in early September, 2012. Striated Caracaras - especially young birds - show a keen interest in unfamiliar objects and seem to enjoy probing and manipulating them, and these two birds were quite typical.
Charles Darwin, in the Voyage of the Beagle, described Striated Caracaras as "tame and mischieveous, quarrelsome and passionate" and remarked on their fondness for stealing items from the Beagle's crew during his visit to the Falklands. Charles Barnard, a sealer from Nantucket who was marooned on the islands in 1813-14, found the birds to be a real nuisance:
"“These birds,” he wrote, “are exceedingly bold and the most mischievous of all the feathered creation. The sailors who visit these islands, being often much vexed at their predatory tricks, have bestowed different names upon them, as flying monkeys, flying devils, etc., etc. I have known these birds to fly away with caps, mittens, stockings, powder horns, knives, steels, tin pots, in fact everything which their great strength is equal to...they compel us to secure our provisions, by covering them with the sails of the boat, which we fastened down by stones, and then direct the dog to lie down by them to prevent these harpies from hauling off the stones and sails”.
It was hard not to thing of Mr. Barnard while the bird on the left was picking at my backpack. (JM)
Video by Jonathan Meiburg