What Are Tips for Identification of Birds of Prey?


Quick Answer

Birds of prey, also called raptors, are carnivores and can be identified by their sharp, hooked beaks and the curved talons that enable them to capture and kill their prey. They generally have drab plumage of black, brown, gray and white feathers that aid camouflage while hunting. They can also be distinguished by their broad wings, which help them soar, and their tails, which enhance maneuverability while in flight.

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What Are Tips for Identification of Birds of Prey?
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Full Answer

Diurnal birds of prey include eagles, hawks, kites, osprey, vultures, falcons, secretary birds, harriers, caracaras and condors. Nocturnal birds of prey include barn and bay owls. Many species of raptor have excellent eyesight, which they use to locate prey while in flight. Owls have keen hearing to detect prey in the dark. Various birds of prey such as eagles, hawks and falcons use their speed to plummet towards their prey, their talons to capture and kill it and their beaks to tear it apart. Some birds of prey such as ospreys specialize in catching fish.

Raptors are found on every continent of the world except Antarctica and in a variety of climates and habitats including forests, seacoasts, deserts, tundra and Arctic snowfields. Their size varies from the Andean condor, whose wingspan reaches 10 feet, to the lesser kestrel, whose wingspan barely reaches 2.5 feet. The harpy eagle has the largest talons of any raptor and is so powerful that it can lift prey equal to its own body weight.

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