Birds of Prey (Raptors)

A bird of prey, also known as a raptor, is a bird that hunts other animals for food. These birds possess sharp talons, curved beaks, and excellent vision and hearing to help them find, capture, and kill their prey. Owls, eagles, hawks, and falcons are all raptors.

Owls

Owls are a group of raptors belong to the order Strigiformes. Most owls are nocturnal
(hunt at night), though a few are crepuscular (hunt at dawn and dusk) or diurnal (hunt
during the day.) One of the most striking features of owls is their eyes. Owl eyes are very large, tubular, and surrounded by tiny bones called scleral ossicles. Because of the shape of the eye itself, as well as the presence of these bones, owls cannot move their eyes in their sockets; instead, owls turn their heads to see around them – up to 270 degrees! Owls also have spectacular hearing, aided by the fact that their ears are asymmetrically placed – meaning one ear is higher than the other. This feature allows owls to pinpoint exactly where a noise is coming from, and makes them very effective hunters of small mammals, even when there is no light or a lot of coverage surrounding the prey.

Eagles and Hawks

Eagles and hawks are raptors that belong to the order Accipitriformes. This order encompasses a large number of birds – ranging from tiny hawks no larger than a robin, to eagles who hunt and kill mountain goats. All birds of this order are diurnal hunters, though their prey varies significantly across species–from insects and birds, to reptiles and large mammals.

Falcons

Falcons belong to the order Falconiformes. Falcons have thin, tapered wings, which allow them to fly at amazing speeds and change directions quickly. In fact, a diving Peregrine Falcon can reach 200 mph while in a dive – making it the fastest creature on Earth! Falcons are also thought to be some of the most intelligent birds, comparable to crows and ravens.

If you have found a raptor in need, please refer to our Wildlife Help and Resources page: http://vetmed.illinois.edu/wildlife/wildlife-help-and-resources/birds/