To Seize or Take By Force

nest-birds1-cassowaryIn this post I decided to pick up where I left off with the previous post and talk a little more about birds that live by eating other animals. They are called birds of prey or just simply raptors.  “Raptor” is a Latin word and it means to seize or take by force.

Many of these raptors have some of the same traits.  Actually, there are three traits that are particular to the birds of prey. They have powerful beaks for tearing into food, powerful talons (can be considered claws) for grabbing and holding on to prey, and powerful vision for scoping out prey from long distances.

Their keen vision is what these raptors are known for… and rightly so.  They have the ability to zero in on targets that are miles away and that are under water.  The placement of their eyes gives them an outstanding range of binocular vision making it easy for them to determine distances. Their eyes are also almost two times bigger than other birds that are the same size.

Another important feature of birds of prey is their talons or claws.  These are important in that, without them, raptors wouldn’t even be able to catch the prey that they are hunting.  Sometimes the talons of the birds are used for defensive reasons.  There aren’t many that use their talons this way but a few do.

One bird called a Cassowary does.  It’s a flightless bird that can be found in the tropical forest of New Guinea and southeastern Australia.  It generally uses it’s talons for digging up fruit but when threatened, it will use its powerful claws to cause severe damage.

nest-birds1-cassowary2I must note that the internet has pegged this bird as being extremely dangerous but I don’t think that’s the case.  I haven’t encountered one of these birds in real life so I can’t say for sure if its extremely dangerous or not but of all the reports, there has only been one death to a human from these birds.  They are shy birds that keep to themselves and if provoked defend themselves by throwing a fierce kick with the 5in claw on their foot.

The Cassowary can grow up to 6 feet tall, can run up to 31 mph, jump up to 4.9ft, and is a good swimmer.  Even though their diets consists of mainly fruit they will hunt, kill, and eat smaller animals.  One of the major difference between this raptor and others is that the Cassowary is a flightless bird that doesn’t perch itself high and looks down on its prey from miles away.

One bird that does sit perched high is the Osprey (fish eagle, sea hawk, river hawk, and fish hawk are alternative names).  Its a fairly large bird that dines on fish almost exclusively.  They can be 24in in length and 71in across it’s wings.  You can find this bird all over the world with the exception of Antarctica and it will generally make its home near a body of water where fish are plentiful.  The Osprey can be recognized by its brown and greyish color.

nest-birds1-osprey

An eagle is another raptor that hunts fish (among other things) and that shares the same features of having a powerful beak, strong talons, and keen eyesight.  There are over 60 different species of eagles and they can be found anywhere in the world. They differ from other birds of prey in that they are much larger in size .  Their wing span can go up to 7ft and they can perch up to 3ft tall.  Eagles can actually be divided into four groups and I’ll delve into those in my next post.

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