Birds of prey or Raptors are birds that primarily rely on their broad wings, strong beaks and talons, keen senses and good vision to hunt for prey. They may come in different sizes from the smallest (Elf owl) to the largest (Black Vulture). Below is the list of the amazing birds we call “Raptors”.
Eagles can be distinguish from other birds of prey mainly by their larger size, long broad wings, muscular legs, massive feet, heavier head and hooked beaks. Most eagles are larger than any other raptors except the vultures. Eagle vary in sizes; from the Spilornis serpent-eagles, which measures 45 cm long, to the 1-meter Harpy Eagle.
They build very large nests on high cliffs or tall trees and lay 1 – 3 eggs that have a green inside layer. There is an on-going debate on which is the largest eagle and this I have to say: The Steller’s sea eagle is the heaviest living eagle that can weigh from 15-20 lbs. The Philippine eagle (above photo) averaging a meter tall is the largest in terms of size. The Harpy eagle is the bulkiest in relation to it’s size and the golden eagle has the largest wingspan.
A small to medium-sized birds of prey with long pointed wings, falcons are known swift flyers that at times use fast flight to pursue their prey. Rather than building a nest, falcons occupy other birds’ old nests or lay their eggs on cliff ledges or in tree hollows. The Gyrfalcon (above photo) is the largest of all falcon species averaging 48 to 61 cm long, weighs between 805 to 1350 g and can have a wingspan from 110 to 130 cm.
True hawks are medium-sized birds of prey that usually are found in woodland; pursue their prey by sudden dashes from a hidden perch. Hawks use their long tails for soaring, tight steering, slow flight to catch its prey. They are widely regarded to have visual sharpness several times that of a normal human being.
The largest hawk, though it is a buteo is the Ferruginous Hawk (above photo), a large species with long broad wings. Adult males average from 51 to 66 cm, weigh from 998 to 2,041 g and with an average wingspan from 48 to 60 inches. Take note that females are larger than males.
Kites are birds of prey with long wings and small, weak legs and feet. Most of their time are spend soaring and hunting for prey. They are commonly found in warmer portions of all continents. Among the common species of kites are: the snail kite (above photo) that grows to 48 cm long, the swallow-tailed kite that average about 60 cm long (though half of its length is credited to its long forked tail) and the white-tailed kite that averages from 38 to 43 cm long.
The Osprey is a fish-eating raptor that inhabits near bodies of water. It is found worldwide except Antarctica. This large bird with white head and deep brown underbody averages from 1.4–2 kilograms in weight, reaching 60 centimeters in length with a 150–180 centimeters wingspan. It is the only bird of prey whose outer toe is reversible, making it easy for it to grasp its prey with two toes in front and two behind. The Osprey’s diet consists almost exclusively of fish.
Owls are solitary and nocturnal birds of prey consisting 200 extant species. They have soft feathers that enables them to fly soundlessly and have forward facing eyes that is useful in detecting prey. Owls do not build their nest and lay white and almost spherical eggs. The Elf owl is the smallest species of owl that average 13.5 cm long and weighs about 31 g. The largest owls are two of the eagle owls, the Eurasian Eagle Owl (above photo) and Blakiston’s Fish Owl, which may grow from 60-71 cm long and average 4.5 kg in weight.
The Secretary Bird is the only species in the family Sagittariidae that is found in Sudan and South Africa. This raptor which has long legs with multiple feather crest on its head inhabits open grasslands and savannah.
Vultures are medium to large-sized carrion-eating raptors that are tailored to a diet of dead animals. They have heads either partly or fully devoid of feathers and weak feet with blunt talons. Vultures have long, broad wings that is useful for long distance soaring. Perhaps, the largest bird of prey is the Cinereous Vulture or Black Vulture that averages from 98 -110 cm long, weighs around 7-14 kg with a 250-300 cm wingspan.
Check out other Amazing Birds posts:
The World's Amazing Birds
The World's Amazing Birds 2
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