After leaving Ushuaia, we had a day at sea as we made our way toward the Falklands. When I went to the Arts Café that afternoon, there was a bit of excitement: a bird had been hanging out on the terrace for hours. It was generally agreed that he’d come aboard while we were docked in Ushuaia and that maybe he wasn’t a seabird, so was stuck until we got close to land again.

I sat down several feet away in order to take some pictures. I also said hello and chatted a bit because, you know, manners.


Say hello to the cararaca

And then suddenly he spread his wings, flew right toward me, and landed on my arm!

Cararaca taking off

He stayed there for several minutes and one of the waiters took photos for me.

Cararaca on my arm

After a while, he hopped onto the back of my chair and I went inside. I sat at the window, just watching this beautiful wild bird for hours.

Someone had identified it as a caracara, so I went online to narrow his species down further. I think it was a striated caracara. I posted a photo on the cruise’s Facebook page,* which brought even more passengers to the café. The reactions to my photo were interesting – half the commenters were shocked that I wasn’t scared having this bird of prey sitting on my arm, while the other half were delighted by, even envious of my little close encounter.

He was the hot topic for the rest of the day and the jokes flew fast. “He hitched a ride to the Falklands.” When he landed on another passenger’s tablet, “Hey Google, how do I get home?” Someone eventually fed it a variety of seafood, which it seemed to like a great deal. The next day, upon arriving at the Falklands, he disappeared as quietly as he’d arrived.

* Someone who saw the photo suggested it was a juvenile southern crested caracara.

Topics: Argentina, Nature

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