Eating insects and worms is not enough to get a bird classified as a bird of prey. Birds have to hunt bigger game, such as fish or mice, to earn that title. Or do they? Vultures (known as birds of prey) feed on carrion, which they haven’t “hunted” at all. Scientific classifications can get pretty tricky!
Some birds of prey “hide” at great altitudes, using their superior eyesight to locate potential meals below. They can glide hundreds of feet up for a long time without getting tired, because they are catching rides on thermals–warm pillows of air that rise up and cost the birds very little effort. Scanning the world from such heights is no problem, either. Their eyesight is 8-10 times sharper than the sharpest-eyed human–they can spy an 18 inch rabbit from two miles away!
In most animal species, the male tends to be larger than the female–but not when you’re talking about some of these birds. The coloration between males and females is often very similar in birds of prey, but female peregrine falcons, for one, are bigger than the males. Some birds of prey are thought to mate for life.
Has your new Zoobooks Birds of Prey arrived in the mail yet? Look for the dramatic image of the red kite on the cover, and decide for yourself whether it is excited over prey, or alert to danger. What do you think?