Birds of Prey Description


Birds of prey are birds that hunt for food using their keen senses, especially vision. They kill their preys using their powerful talons. Their beaks tend to be relatively large, powerful and adapted for tearing and/or piercing flesh. The term “raptor” is derived from the Latin word “rapere” which means “snatch, grab, carry off”.

Formal Classification:

The diurnal birds of prey are formally classified into five families:

  • Accipitridae: hawks, eagles, buzzards, harriers, kites and Old World vultures
  • Pandionidae: the Osprey
  • Sagittariidae: the Secretary Bird
  • Falconidae: falcons and caracaras
  • Cathartidae: New World vultures including condors

The nocturnal birds of prey – the owls – are classified separately as members of two extant families of the order Strigiformes:

  • Strigidae: (typical owls)
  • Tytonidae: (barn and bay owls)

* Remsen, J. V., Jr., C. D. Cadena, A. Jaramillo, M. Nores, J. F. Pacheco, M. B. Robbins, T. S. Schulenberg, F. G. Stiles, D. F. Stotz, and K. J. Zimmer. [Version 2007-04-05.] A classification of the bird species of South America. American Ornithologists’

Union. Accessed 2007-04-10