Small hawk (usually genus Accipiter, family Accipitridae), found in Africa, Europe, and Asia. Sparrow hawks are gray above, barred-white below, and sometimes have white tail bars. They eat insects and small birds and mammals. The American kestrel is also called sparrow hawk.
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Merlin (Falco columbarius).
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Magician and wise man in Arthurian legend. In Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of England, Merlin was an adviser to King Arthur, with magical powers that recalled his Celtic origins. Later narratives made him a prophet of the grail and gave him credit for the idea of the Round Table. In Sir Thomas Malory's Morte Darthur he brought Arthur to the throne and served as his mentor throughout his reign. His downfall was linked to his infatuation for an enchantress, who imprisoned him after learning the magic arts from him.
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Any moth of the lepidopteran family Sphingidae. Found worldwide, these stout-bodied moths have long, narrow forewings and shorter hind wings, with wingspans ranging from 2 to 8 in. (5–20 cm). Many species pollinate flowers while sucking nectar; the proboscis of some species is up to 13 in. (32.5 cm) long. Some hawk moths migrate. The larvae, which are smooth and have a dorsal “horn,” are called hornworms; larvae of two North American species—the tobacco, or southern, hornworm, and the tomato, or northern, hornworm—attack tomato, tobacco, and potato crops.
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Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis).
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Species (Pandion haliaetus) of long-winged hawk found along seacoasts and large interior waterways. Ospreys are about 26 in. (65 cm) long and brown above and white below, with some white on the head. An osprey flies over the water, hovers above its prey, and then plunges feet first, seizing the fish in its long, curved talons. Ospreys breed on all continents except South America, where they live only in winter. They usually nest, singly or in colonies, high in trees or on cliffs. Bioaccumulation of pesticides caused populations to dwindle in the 20th century, but they are now recovering.
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Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus).
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The term hawk can be used in several ways:
The common names of birds in various parts of the world often use hawk in the second sense. For example, the Osprey or "fish hawk"; or, in North America, the various Buteo species (e.g., the Red-tailed Hawk, B. jamaicensis).
In February 2005, Canadian ornithologist Louis Lefebvre announced a method of measuring avian "IQ" in terms of their innovation in feeding habits. Hawks were named among the most intelligent birds based on his scale.
Hawks are widely reputed to have visual acuity several times that of a normal human being. This is due to the many photoreceptors in the retina (up to 1,000,000 per square mm for Buteo, against 200,000 for humans), an exceptional number of nerves connecting these receptors to the brain, and an indented fovea, which magnifies the central portion of the visual field.