California Raptor Center

Raptor Facts

Did you know…

  • raptors are at the top of the food chain. Their only natural enemies are those that may eat their eggs or young.
  • female raptors are lager than males.
  • a raptor's feathers weigh more than their 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.
  • the correct term for hawk is “buzzard.” It comes from the French word busard, or hawk. Early settlers transferred the name to vultures, and it remains an inaccurate term.
  • that 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.
  • that 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 nature gas pipelines. The gas is laced with a “rotten-meat” odor.
  • DNA evidence puts New World Vultures in the Stork Family.
  • 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 200 mph.
  • Barn owls can catch their prey in complete darkness, using their sense of hearing to accurately pinpoint the location of the prey.
  • a Great Horned Owl that weighs just half a pound (250g) needs to eat 1,125 mice a year.
  • the Elf Owl is the smallest North American raptor weighing less that 2 ounces (0.11b).

More Fascinating Facts about Golden Eagles
Did you know…

  • their name comes from their shining golden feathers on its head and neck.
  • they’re circumpolar, found all around the world
  • a 10 lb bird 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.

Fascination 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 a mile away while soaring at 500 feet, 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.