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Bird of prey
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Bird of prey

Birds of Prey
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Orders
Accipitriformes
  • Cathartidae
  • Pandionidae
  • Accipitridae
  • Sagittariidae
Falconiformes
  • Falconidae

A bird of prey or raptor is a bird that hunts its food, especially one that preys on mammals or other birds.

Diurnal birds of prey hunt with their beaks and talons. They belong to the order Accipitriformes and Falconiformes in several groups including:

For an alternative taxonomy, see also Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy.

Nocturnal birds of prey -- the owls -- are separate from the diurnal families, and are in the order Strigiformes.

Other birds may also hunt large prey items, such as the shrikes, and some kingfishers, like the Kookaburra.

Although, as above, the term is sometimes used more broadly, in general it refers to diurnal species such as the hawks, eagles, buzzards, falcons and vultures.

Although other groups may fill similar ecological roles and sometimes appear closely related on first sight, this is largely because of convergent evolution.

Common terms and categories

Many terms are used to describe particular types of birds of prey, both by specialists and lay people, in ways that vary a good deal.


The F/A-22 Raptor is a fighter aircraft of the United States Air Force.

In the fictional Star Trek universe, Bird of Prey is an alternate term for a type of Romulan impulse cruiser also known as a "War Bird," and later refers to one of several classes of small Klingon combat vessels. See Bird of Prey (Star Trek) for more information.

Birds of Prey is a comic book published by DC Comics that features the adventures of a group of superheroes based in Gotham City. It was also a live action television series loosely based on the comic book. See Birds of Prey for more information.