Birds of prey are characterized by hooked beak and claws strong and sharp with that hunt prey.
Eagles and owls are known, but there are many more… Nearly 150 species prey with nightlife and approximately 300 species daytime.
Nocturnal birds of prey flalty and hunt in the dark. Thanks to their big eyes, which have many photosensitive cells, they can move easily through woods and fields looking for little mammals. Besides this , their sense of hearing is very acute, and they can detect and identify precisely the subtlest sounds. Once their prey has been detected, they start their flight, extremely quiet in comparison to the flight of their diurnal relatives.
When we talk about diurnal birds of prey, we include different groups: eagles, hawks, vultures, kites, goshawks…
The body of a diurnal bird of prey is more slender than that of a nocturnal bird of prey. Its beak and legs have fewer feathers and its face is not so round and flat.
All of them have their sight specially designed for hunting. At night, good hearing is critical, but in daylight, it is even more important to have sharp sight.
Their image resolution is better than ours and, moreover, they can detect a prey moving at a far distance. If we compare their sight to ours, theirs is 8 times sharper!
We usually use the name “vultures” to describe those birds that eat dead animals (carrion). In the Iberian Peninsula we can find 4 species of carrion eaters, the most common being the so-called “common” vulture (Gyps fulvus). At first sight, we can notice its long and naked neck. Its head is covered by down, because it is more practical and clean when they eat. The measurements of this species are amazing: 240 to 280 cm from one wing to the other and 8 kg weight!
The eagles stand out, most of all, due to their claw’s strength and to their hunting skills.
The buzzards are other members of the eagle’s family. They look like little eagles, especially during their flight, and for that reason it’s not easy to tell the difference between an eagle and a buzzard. The prominent eyebrows give them the look so common to some birds of prey.
They often spend many hours standing on trees or posts, looking out at the field or the undergrowth, stalking unwary rabbits or mice.
Hawks are very different from eagles and vultures. They are medium sized, their wings are thin and they are extremely good at catching their prey whilst flying. Their usual habitat is the open field, where they can chase their prey at a high speed. In fact, the fastest of them all is the pilgrim hawk, which can reach 300 km/hour when diving. Their robust, aerodynamic body and their fast winging make it possible to reach that speed.
The hawks are nervous creatures, not as calm as their nocturnal relatives. For that reason, when they are trained for hunting, a hood covers their heads when they are not flying in order to keep them calm.
Can we touch them?
No! Birds of Prey are distrustful by nature and may well interpret such contact as aggression.
What do they eat?
Their diet here is very similar to that which they would have in the wild. This includes rabbit, mice, quail and chicken.