Birds of Prey

February 9, 2009 by  
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Birds of prey, or raptors, are birds which hunt other animals for food and are specially adapted to do so. Birds of prey include eagles, condors, kites, falcons, hawks, osprey, owls, vultures, buzzards and secretary birds.

When hunting, birds of prey use their highly adapted feet and talons to capture and kill prey. Hawks and owls will grab prey from the ground and then kill it by crushing it in their feet. Falcons use speed to effectively kill prey by plummeting down from high up and striking with its feet. Peregrine falcons reach speeds of up to 90 mph/145kph

Birds of prey are carnivorous and gain certain nutrients from the stomach contents of their prey. The entire prey animal is devoured by the bird of prey and later pellets of undigested matter are regurgitated. Falcons have a nook (notch) on their upper bill to break the neck of prey. Vultures have especially large, strong beaks to rip through hide and break bones.

Birds of prey have a highly developed sense of sight, far better than our own, and females are larger than the males (except for vultures and secretary birds) as they need to defend their nestlings.

The heaviest bird of prey is the Andean condor, it weighs in at 27 pounds (12 kg) which is a lot to carry in flight. The largest, however, are the eagles and vultures with wingspans of about 10 feet (3m). The most powerful bird of prey is the Harpy Eagle. The Harpy Eagle’s wingspan is 6.5 feet (2m) and their talons can be as long as 5 inches (12.5cm).

To truly experience birds of prey why not visit a local rehabilitation center and view them up close. Many places offer falconry demonstrations where you can see these wonderful birds in action. If you are interested in finding out what birds of prey are in your area consult a region specific field guide.

Any opportunity to see birds of prey in action will be an awe-inspiring and unforgettable experience.

Spectacular Birding on the Isle of Mull

August 1, 2008 by  
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The beautiful Isle of Mull is Scotland’s fourth largest island and a popular tourist destination for a number of reasons, one of them being that it offers superb bird watching opportunities in a wide variety of habitats. The island’s mountains, moorlands, sea lochs, hill lochans, damp boggy marshes and wide sandy beaches are home to many local species of birds, as well as a host of migrants at different times of the year.

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The National Birds of Prey Center in Gloucestershire

June 25, 2008 by  
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The National Birds of Prey Center, located near Newent in Gloucestershire, is one of Britain’s premiere attractions and one of the top birds of prey centers in the United Kingdom. It is home to roughly 170 different birds of prey, including 22 species of eagles, falcons and hawks – a real treat for any bird lover or falconer.

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Falconry Part 1: Origins and Applications

October 19, 2007 by  
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Falconry is a sport that involves the training of birds of prey to hunt game for their trainers. Although not all birds of prey are falcons, the previous use of the term “hawker” when hawks were used for hunting has come to commonly be used as a term describing traveling traders. For this reason the term “hawker” has fallen into disuse, with “falconer” and “falconry” applying to the sport irrespective of the species of bird used.

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