Birds of Prey

Essay by Chippa123College, UndergraduateB, July 2014

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Birds of Prey: The Tools of a Hunter

Birds of prey, also known as raptors, are tertiary consumers and have evolved many useful tools of an ultimate hunter of the sky such as specialized beaks, sharp talons, stereoscopic vision, and the ability to fly faster than any other animal.

Birds of prey mostly belong to "Order: Falconiformes, Infraclass: Neognathae, Class: Aves, Phylum: Chordata." (Perrins, 1984.) Raptors diet consists of meat and carrion, indicated by its honed tools for predation. Some characteristics of raptors include stereoscopic vision combined with speed and coordination that allows them to use their trademark talons and beaks, to rip and tear their prey, and leave no chance for escape.

"As common as raptors are, the specifics of how they capture prey often remain poorly understood. Even with modern technology, actually closely witnessing how birds of prey deal with victims remains largely a matter of luck.

As such, surprisingly little was known about how talons are employed during feeding." (Charles 2009) Observing the use of its tools and techniques in the wild for hunting and capturing prey is vital in order to understand the application of said tools and to measure their success as predators.

Raptor's talons are a unique tool for killing prey often larger than themselves, used to cut and disembowel prey, and occasionally eating the prey while it still lives. Similar behavioral patterns are believed to be had by ancient theropod dinosaurs such as the velociraptor who also has sharp talons ideal for slashing and maiming prey. "The killing techniques range from dismemberment to squeezing prey to death. The findings could help researchers understand how the claws of extinct dinosaurs and birds helped them hunt." (Charles 2009) Some species of raptors do not rely on their talons to do the damage, but...