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      Nature Report: Cara Cara

      High atop a weathered ebony in the ranch country of the western Valley, a cara cara slowly descends gnarled branches to its large nest.

      Peeking up just over the bundle of sticks, the lone chick in the nest peers expectantly at its parent.

      The adult begins to tear the meal it has brought, pausing regularly to gaze about for any sign of danger.

      The spring winds are gusty, and the cara cara's feathers are ruffled in the gale.

      It is difficult to tell what type of meat the raptor has delivered, but the first bites torn asunder are not shared with the youngster.

      Finally, junior begins to get a few morsels.

      The nest is deep, and the chick is only a couple of weeks old so it is difficult to see much of the feeding, but eventually the adult finishes and after climbing to the uppermost branches soars off in search of another meal.

      The cara cara, or totache as it is known by some old timers, is a member of the falcon family, and while it is an effective hunter they rely primarily on carrion.

      With its four-foot wingspan, distinctive brown crest, bright orange facial skin and massive hooked beak, the cara cara is a striking bird.

      Next up on the menu appears to be a rodent, and this time the little one gets first dubs on the meal.

      After several minutes, the creature is consumed, and once again the adult lifts off.

      In the fading light of late afternoon, the cara cara lands a final time.