Raptor Facts

Photo: An Owl
Did You Know:
  • raptors are at the top of the food chain. Their only natural enemies are larger predators and those that may eat their eggs or young.
  • female raptors are larger than males.
  • a raptor's feathers weigh more than its skeleton.
  • eagles, hawks, and vultures can travel great distances without flapping their wings, by soaring using the thermals that are created as warm air rises from the ground.
  • "Buzzard" is the British English term for "buteo hawk." It probably comes from the French "busard," which means "harrier hawk." Early settlers in the US thought the large flying birds they saw were the familiar "buzzards," but they were, in fact, the Turkey and Black Vultures. The misnomer "buzzard" for "vulture" has stuck since that time.
  • in one year a Red-tailed Hawk may eat 1,000 mice, 100 small birds, 20 gophers, 18 small rabbits, 15 squirrels, 15 shrews, 9 quail, 7 snakes, 4 rats, and 2 weasels.
  • the largest North American raptor is the CA Condor. They can weigh as much as 30 lbs and have a wingspan of 10 feet.
  • the Turkey Vulture's sense of smell is used to find leaks in natural gas pipelines. The gas is laced with a "rotten-meat" odor.
  • a Golden Eagle can see a rabbit from as far away as 5 football fields (500 yards) and can see a sheep from 3 miles away.
  • a Bald Eagle's nest is strong enough to support a grown man.
  • Ospreys are the only raptors that eat nothing but fish.
  • a Peregrine Falcon can dive at over 200 mph.
  • Barn owls can catch their prey in complete darkness, using their sense of hearing to accurately pinpoint the location of the prey.
  • the Elf Owl is the smallest North American raptor, weighing less than 2 ounces (0.11b).

Fascinating Facts about Bald Eagles

Did you know:
  • they were designated America's national symbol in 1782.
  • they have a wingspan of 6-8 feet.
  • they're not really bald. The name comes from the old English word "balde," meaning shining white.
  • it's the only eagle that lives exclusively on the North American continent.
  • they can spot a fish swimming near the surface of the water a mile below them, then swoop down at 100 miles per hour to snatch it.
  • they return to the same nest year after year, making it larger each time, with some nests weighing as much as two tons, only giving up the nest when the tree can no longer support it.
  • they have about 7,000 feathers.

Fascinating Facts about Golden Eagles

Did you know:
  • its name comes from its shining golden feathers on its head and neck.
  • they're found throughout the northern hemisphere.
  • a 10 lb eagle can fly away with a 15 lb rabbit.
  • they catch tortoises in Israel and fly into the sky and drop them on the rocks to break them open.