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RAPTOR FACTS

Did you know...

  • A raptor is a bird that hunts and eats live animals and kills with its feet.
  • In flight, vultures have a habit of bowing their wings under their body, tips almost touching.
  • Osprey and some Owls dive into the water talons first, sometimes totally submerging themselves.
  • The enlarged cere of the Osprey can cover its nostrils when under water.
  • Northern Harriers exhibit sexual dimorphism. That is, the males and females are colored differently. The female is brown, the male grey. Harriers have owl-like facial discs.
  • Adult accipiters (Cooper's Hawk, Goshawk, and Sharp-shinned Hawk) have red eyes.
  • Swainson's Hawk can fly through the air catching and eating insects or bats.
  • A Red-tailed Hawk can spy a meadow mouse from 100 feet.
  • A Ferruginous Hawk is fierce and strong enough to scare coyotes away from its nest.
  • The American Kestrel male and female exhibit different colors. They can hover while looking for small mice, grasshoppers, and crickets. They are often seen on fences and power lines bobbing their heads vigorously.
  • Merlins mimic the flight of pigeons to sneak up on unwary prey.
  • The dives of Peregrine Falcons have been clocked up to 200 mph.
  • Owl's eyes are fixed in their sockets so they must rotate their heads (up to 270 degrees) to look around.
  • Owl's eyes are like humans' in that they have binocular vision. Because the eyes point straight ahead, they can see the same thing with both eyes at the same time, increasing their visual acuity.
  • Owl's facial discs help to funnel sounds into the ear openings.
  • Owls can hear a mouse step on a twig up to 75 feet away or detect a lemming burrowing under the snow.
  • The Barn Owl can hunt by sound only, usually in the dead of the night. When threatened, it does an aggressive "toe dusting," moving its head back and forth over its talons.
  • Elf Owls are the smallest in the world. Hiding in Saguaro Cactus holes by day, it shields its conspicuous eyes with a wing.

From "Talons: North American Birds of Prey" by Millie Miller and Cyndi Nelson, Published by Johnson Books, Boulder, CO.

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