Birds of Prey

Bird of Prey

Bird of prey or predatory bird, also known as raptors, refers to several species of birds that hunt and feed on rodents and other small animals. The term raptor is derived from the Latin word rapere, meaning to seize or take by force.  These birds are characterized by keen vision that allows them to detect their prey during flight, as well as powerful talons and beaks.

Taken literally, the term bird of prey has a wide meaning that includes many birds that hunt and feed on animals and also birds that eat very small insects.  In ornithology, the definition for “bird of prey” has a narrower meaning: birds that have very good eyesight for finding food, strong feet for holding food, and a strong curved beak for tearing flesh.  Most birds of prey also have strong curved talons for catching or killing prey.  An example of this difference in definition, the narrower definition excludes storks and gulls, which can eat quite large fish, partly because these birds catch and kill prey entirely with their beaks, and similarly bird-eating skuas, fish-eating penguins, and vertebrate-eating kookaburras are excluded. Birds of prey generally prey on vertebrates, which are usually quite large relative to the size of the bird. Most also eat carrion, at least occasionally, and vultures and condors eat carrion as their main food source.

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