Bird of prey

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Birds

iBirds of prey
Harris Hawk
Harris Hawk
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
  • Accipitriformes
    • Pandionidae
    • Accipitridae
    • Sagittariidae
  • Falconiformes
    • Falconidae

A bird of prey or raptor is a bird that hunts for food primarily using its talons. They display a characteristic curved tip to their beak and have superb vision.
Diurnal birds of prey belong to the orders Accipitriformes and Falconiformes in several groups including:

  • Accipitriformes
    • Pandionidae: Osprey
    • Accipitridae: hawks, eagles, buzzards, kites and Old World vultures
    • Sagittariidae: Secretary Bird
  • Falconiformes

For an alternative taxonomy, see also Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy.

Nocturnal birds of prey—the owls—are separate from the diurnal families, and are in the order Strigiformes. The term "raptor" includes owls.

Although other bird groups may fill similar ecological roles and sometimes appear closely related at first sight, this is largely because of convergent evolution.

Raptor names

  • Eagles are large birds with long, broad wings and massive legs. Booted eagles have feathered legs and build large stick nests.
  • Kites have long wings and weak legs. They spend much of their time soaring. They will take live prey but mostly feed on carrion.
Bald Eagle at Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park, North Devon, England
Bald Eagle at Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park, North Devon, England
  • Falcons are small to medium sized birds of prey with long pointed wings. Unlike most other raptors, they belong to the Falconidae rather than the Accipitridae. Many are particularly swift flyers. Instead of building their own nests, falcons appropriate old nests of other birds but sometimes they lay their eggs on cliff ledges or in tree hollows.
  • Owls are variable-sized nocturnal hunting birds. They fly soundlessly and have very acute senses of hearing and sight.
  • Harriers are large, slender hawk-like birds with long tails and long thin legs. Most hunt by gliding and circling low over grasslands and marshes on their long broad wings.
  • Hawks are medium-sized birds of prey that belong to the genus Accipiter. They are mainly woodland birds that hunt by sudden dashes from a concealed perch. They usually have long tails.
  • Buzzards are raptors with a robust body and broad wings, or, alternatively, any bird of the genus Buteo (also commonly known as Hawks in North America).

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