Birds of Prey

Scientific Name
Various in the orders Accipitriformes (hawks, eagles, kites), Falconiformes (falcons and caracaras) and Strigiformes (owls)
Geographic Range
North, Central, and South America
Medium and small mammals, insects

More Information

Different species of birds of prey, also known as raptors, have unique wing shapes adapted to their specific method of hunting. Hawks of the genus Buteo, such as the red-tailed hawk, have very broad wings that are perfect for soaring while searching for prey. Hawks of the genus Accipter, such as the Cooper’s hawk, have narrower wings that allow for quick movements between trees in pursuit of songbirds. Falcons, such as the peregrine falcon and American kestrel, have even narrower and pointed wings, which are adapted for stationary hovering and diving for prey. Common species at Nature Boardwalk include the red-tailed hawk, Cooper’s hawk, sharp-shinned hawk, and American kestrel.

Did You Know?

  • Owls are known for their silent flight, enabled by fringed flight feathers that reduce air turbulence and noise in flight.
  • The term “raptor” comes from the Latin word “rapere,” meaning to seize. It describes how a bird of prey will use its talons to capture its prey. Raptors are apex predators that help maintain ecosystem balance by controlling populations of abundant prey species, from deer to insects.
  • In its dive, or stoop, a peregrine falcon can reach speeds of 240 mph. Typically a cliff-nesting species, peregrines have adapted to urban areas by nesting on high-rise buildings.


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