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An additional record of hematophagy by the Yellow-headed Caracara Daptrius chimachima on a domestic horse from Venezuela


Hematophagy is a practice in which animal organisms feed on blood. Among birds, few
species are known to practice it, including rapacious birds such as Caracaras. Here, an
hematophagy event by a Yellow-headed Caracara on a wounded domestic horse from
northern Venezuela is described, taking notes about the visit frequency, number of visitors,
the horse’s interaction with the caracara, the blood consumption type (direct, indirect), and
hematophagy tactics (active or passive). Over six continuous days, once a day, a Yellow-
headed Caracara arrived on the back of a wounded domestic horse between 08:00–10:00
h and perched without any negative response from the quadruped. After arriving, the
bird remained motionless for a few minutes and then approached the open wound. After
sucking blood for about 4–7 minutes, the bird of prey inspected the rest of the animal for
ectoparasites and then it left the area for the rest of the day. Once, an adult and a juvenile
Yellow-headed Caracaras visited the horse to feed on blood together. This is the first report
of hematophagy for the Yellow-headed Caracara in Venezuela. My observations suggest
that the Yellow-crested Caracara is a passive hematophagous bird, and direct hematophagy
in this species occurs because its opportunistic behavior was stimulated by wounds made
accidentally or by other active hematophagous animals such as Vampire bats.


bird of prey, blood-sucking animal, cleaner bird, sanguivory, cleaning symbiosis, vampire bird