About the Caracara

Well, folks, you can surely tell that summer is here, can’t you? Daytime temperatures of 100º to 105º F., is common across the state of Texas, with lots of variations, especially in the western part of the state. The average in my area is usually the low 100s, with high humidity. We actually had rain the weekend of July 13-14. Of course, that is all dried up now and we need more. The first day or two after the rain, you could practically hear the grass growing!
My week was only semi-busy. Tuesday, some of the other ladies and I worked in our workshop, as we are already gearing up working on items for the Craft Show in November! One of our ladies has been making crosses from clothespins for a while and staining them, (which is a lot of work and time consuming), and decorating them with brass buttons. A couple of years ago, when some friends and I attended a Christmas Home Tour in a nearby town, one of the homes had some crosses as part of the décor. They were painted white and some were made of regular sized clothespins and others were made of small clothespins. This was intriguing to me and set me wondering what we could do. It also impressed my auxiliary member when I told her about it, but we didn’t do anything at the time. Now, however, I’ve recently been to a couple of weekend shows where they had the crosses, painted in pastel and deeper colors and decorated, not with buttons, but with bling! We decided to try this, gluing colored stones to the crosses, using different colors or in solid colors, and they are turning out really cute. In fact Tuesday when we were working, I got into our craft cabinet and found a couple of other types of beads/bling that could be used and that turned out cute also.
Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, I worked in the gift shop and on Thursday my daughter, her husband and her granddaughters came in for the day and we had a wonderful visit. Friday was a totally frustrating day for me as it was time for my car to have maintenance done and I headed out to Victoria to get it tended to. On Tuesday, I had noticed that my horn wasn’t working and a couple of family members had noticed that the lever for the trunk didn’t always work inside the car. Well, with the extra work of fixing those two things, and it being a Friday, it took five hours before they were finished. This is the first time my maintenance visits have taken more than a couple of hours. I was so thankful that I had gone to the home of a friend instead of to the mall or some other store. Saturday, we cleaned at the little country church I attend, as on Sunday we have an annual get-together with Mass on Sunday evening rather than in the morning and a meal of chili dogs with all the trimmings and lots of desserts. My dessert will be an angel food cake with a chocolate glaze and probably a sopapilla cheesecake, which is always a fun cake to make as no one can ever figure out what is in it!
On the way back home, in a hay field that had been recently cut, I noticed the crows, buzzards and caracaras were busily walking around, pecking and eating.
The first time I noticed a caracara, it was alongside the road with some buzzards and Sam told me it was a Mexican Eagle. Years down the line, my son told me that the actual name was caracara bird. Like the buzzard, the caracara is protected from hunting, trapping, etc. On another trip down Squirrel Creek Road, out past D’Hanis, there was one in the middle of the road taking a running start with his wings spread as he took off for the sky. It was beautiful seeing the span of the wings!
In going on-line and looking information up about this strange looking bird, I found that they are a member of the falcon family and other interesting little things, such as that in Arizona they build their nests in Saguaro cactus and actually prefer it to be one standing alone rather than in a place where there is a multitude of the cacti.
The common name “cara cara” is what South Americans called the bird and this name most probably imitates the sound the bird makes. It has also been called: Mexican Eagle, Caracara Eagle, King Buzzard, Audubon’s Caracara and Mexican Buzzard.
The original scientific name for this bird comes from poly, the Greek word for many or varied; boros, meaning gluttonous and remarks on the birds voracious appetite, and from the Latin word plances, which is a word Aristotle used for an eagle.
The Crested cara cara has a body length of 19 to 23 inches and a wingspan of about four feet. They weigh about one and three-fourths to three and one-half pounds.
The preferred habitat of the Crested Caracara is open lowland countryside, such as pastures, savannas, river edges and the desert. They reside in the southwestern United States and Florida as well as Central and South America.
You frequently see them feeding on carrion alone or in company of buzzards on the sides of roads. I have seen them between Devine and Hondo as well as between Devine and Jourdanton and various other places between Devine and Yoakum. They will, however, take advantage of any food opportunity, by eating such things as small mammals, reptiles, turtles, fish, crab, eggs, insects, worms and nesting birds. They hunt for food themselves or take food from other birds. They also spend a great deal of time on the ground.
Crested caracaras build a massive nest from small sticks. (The first article I found concerning them was about a study in Arizona, in 1997-1998, and the folks doing the study stated that the nests were used more than once, and that they had found one the size of a Volkswagen.) The nest is built in a palm tree, cactus, in a tree or on the ground. There are usually two or three eggs laid, that incubate for about a month. The fledglings can take as long as three months before they fly as independent birds.
Now, the next time you see that strange looking bird with the black and off-white plumage eating alongside the road, you will know what it is!
Sopapilla Cheesecake
2 cans crescent rolls
2 (8-oz) blocks cream cheese
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 stick melted butter (do not use margarine)
½ cup sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon (or more if desired)
Preheat oven to 350º. Grease or spray a 9×13-in. pan and roll out 1 package of the crescent rolls on the bottom of the pan, sealing creases. Mix cream cheese, sugar and vanilla and spread over the dough. Roll out the second crescent roll sheet and place on top of the cream cheese mixture. Pour melted butter over the top and sprinkle with the sugar and then the cinnamon, bake for 30 minutes. (I mix my cinnamon and sugar together, as I like this better.)
Sopapilla Cheesecake Plus
3 cans crescent rolls
2 (8-oz) blocks cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla, or to your taste
1 can cherry pie filling (21-oz)
1 stick butter, melted (do not substitute)
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly spray 9×13 baking pan with non-stick spray. Spread 2 cans of crescent rolls to cover bottom and up the sides about 1-inch, sealing all perforations. Cream the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla well and spread evenly over the crescent rolls; spread the pie filling over the cream cheese in an even layer. Cover the fruit with the third can of crescent rolls and seal edges. Pour melted butter over the top and sprinkle with the sugar and the cinnamon. Bake 40 to 60 minutes or until no longer ‘jiggly’ in the center.