Bird of prey

Birds of prey, or raptors, include species of bird that primarily hunt and feed on vertebrates that are large relative to the hunter. Additionally, they have keen eyesight for detecting food at a distance or during flight, strong feet equipped with talons for grasping or killing prey, and powerful, curved beaks for tearing flesh.[1][2][3] The term raptor is derived from the Latin word rapio, meaning to seize or take by force.[4] In addition to hunting live prey, most also eat carrion, at least occasionally, and vultures and condors eat carrion as their main food source.[1]

Although the term bird of prey could theoretically be taken to include all birds that primarily consume animals,[3] ornithologists typically use the narrower definition followed in this page.[citation needed] Examples of animal-eating birds not encompassed by the ornithological definition include storks, herons, gulls, skuas, penguins, kookaburras, and shrikes, as well as the many songbirds that are primarily insectivorous.

Common names

The common names for various birds of prey are based on structure, but many of the traditional names do not reflect the evolutionary relationships between the groups.

Variations in shape and size
  • Eagles tend to be large birds with long, broad wings and massive feet. Booted eagles have legs and feet feathered to the toes and build very large stick nests. The bald eagle has become a symbol for the USA.[5]
  • Ospreys, a single species found worldwide that specializes in catching fish and builds large stick nests.
  • Kites have long wings and relatively weak legs. They spend much of their time soaring. They will take live vertebrate prey, but mostly feed on insects or even carrion.
  • The true hawks are medium-sized birds of prey that usually belong to the genus Accipiter (see below). They are mainly woodland birds that hunt by sudden dashes from a concealed perch. They usually have long tails for tight steering.
  • Buzzards are medium-large raptors with robust bodies and broad wings, or, alternatively, any bird of the genus Buteo (also commonly known as "hawks" in North America, while "buzzard" is colloquially used for vultures).
  • Harriers are large, slender hawk-like birds with long tails and long thin legs. Most use a combination of keen eyesight and hearing to hunt small vertebrates, gliding on their long broad wings and circling low over grasslands and marshes.
  • Vultures are carrion-eating raptors of two distinct biological families: the Accipitridae, which occurs only in the Eastern Hemisphere; and the Cathartidae, which occurs only in the Western Hemisphere. Members of both groups have heads either partly or fully devoid of feathers.
  • Falcons are medium-size birds of prey with long pointed wings. They belong to the Falconidae family, rather than the Accipitridae (accipiters). Many are particularly swift flyers.
  • Caracaras are a distinct subgroup of the Falconidae unique to the New World, and most common in the Neotropics – their broad wings, naked faces and appetites of a generalist suggest some level of convergence with either the Buteos or the vulturine birds, or both.
  • Owls are variable-sized, typically night-specialized hunting birds. They fly almost silently due to their special feather structure that reduces turbulence. They have particularly acute hearing.

Many of these English language group names originally referred to particular species encountered in Britain. As English-speaking people travelled further, the familiar names were applied to new birds with similar characteristics. Names that have generalised this way include: kite (Milvus milvus), sparrow-hawk or sparhawk (Accipiter nisus), goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), kestrel (Falco tinninculus), hobby (Falco subbuteo), harrier (simplified from "hen-harrier", Circus cyaneus), buzzard (Buteo buteo).

Some names have not generalised, and refer to single species (or groups of closely related (sub)species): merlin (Falco columbarius), osprey (Pandion haliaetus).

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Roofvoël
العربية: طائر جارح
aragonés: Au rapinyadera
asturianu: Ave de presa
azərbaycanca: Yırtıcı quşlar
беларуская: Драпежныя птушкі
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Драпежныя птушкі
български: Граблива птица
brezhoneg: Evn-preizh
català: Rapinyaire
dansk: Rovfugle
Deutsch: Raubvögel
eesti: Röövlind
español: Ave de presa
Esperanto: Rabobirdo
français: Rapace
Gaeilge: Éin chreiche
Gàidhlig: Eun-creachaidh
한국어: 맹금류
Արեւմտահայերէն: Գիշատիչ թռչուններ
hrvatski: Grabljivice
Bahasa Indonesia: Burung pemangsa
íslenska: Ránfuglar
italiano: Rapace
македонски: Граблива птица
Bahasa Melayu: Burung pemangsa
Nederlands: Roofvogels
日本語: 猛禽類
norsk: Rovfugl
norsk nynorsk: Rovfuglar
occitan: Rapaç
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Yirtqich qushlar
پنجابی: شکاری پنچھی
português: Ave de rapina
русский: Хищные птицы
sicilianu: Furami
Simple English: Bird of prey
српски / srpski: Птица грабљивица
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Grabljivice
svenska: Rovfåglar
Tagalog: Limbas
Taqbaylit: Aylal asekliw
татарча/tatarça: Ерткыч кошлар
українська: Хижі птахи
Tiếng Việt: Chim săn mồi
West-Vlams: Stekveugel
粵語: 猛禽
中文: 猛禽