Birds of Prey are commonly known as Raptors, refer to predatory birds, commonly characterized by keen vision (allowing them to spot prey during flight), as well as powerful talons and beaks for evisceration and ripping flesh. While there are many species of birds that are at least partly predatory, and could hence be considered as birds of prey, in ornithology (which a subset of zoology involving the study of birds), a bird of prey is defined as:
“Birds that have very good eyesight for finding food, strong feet for holding food, and a strong curved beak for tearing flesh.”
Birds of prey are divided into 7 family groups:
- Accipitridae: hawks, eagles, buzzards, harriers, kites and Old World vultures
- Pandionidae: the osprey
- Sagittariidae: the secretarybird
- Falconidae: falcons, caracaras and forest falcons
- Cathartidae: New World vultures
- Strigidae: (typical owls)
- Tytonidae: (barn and bay owls).
The first five families are diurnal (awake by day, sleep by night), while the last two are nocturnal. Now no doubt most of you have heard about most of the birds on the list, so let me elaborate on a few lesser known birds of prey, starting with the hilariously named Secretarybird.
The goddamned secretarybird
Look at this fucking bird, and I mean take a close look at it! Found in Sub-Sharan Africa, this bird is simply goddamned majestic, son! This picture doesn’t do it justice because it can be as high at 1.3m tall! And get this, unlike most birds of prey; the secretarybird is so damned majestic that it largely refuses to fly!
Yes, this bird is so badass that it doesn’t even need to fly to hunt its prey! Let’s take a look at its hunting methods. First, it mostly involved stomping, yes, you read that right: stomping.
The secretarybird flushes out its prey: insects, mammals ranging in size from mice to hares and mongoose, crabs, lizards,snakes, tortoises, young birds, bird eggs, and sometimes dead animals killed in grass or bush fires) by stomping on the surrounding vegetation. It also hangs out near forest fires and eats prey trying to escape. Basically, a total dick.
It catches its prey either by chasing it and striking it with its bill, or stomping on prey until it is stunned or unconscious enough to swallow. When it comes to larger prey, such as snakes, the secretarybird will jump on its back and trying to snap its neck or back. There have also been unverified accounts of secretarybirds picking snakes up, taking flight with them and then dropping them to their deaths. Oh, and it is also immune to snake venom. Badass!
Think this whole kicking thing is weak? Apparently their kicks are strong enough to shatter a human’s hand with a single kick! Try feeding it your breadcrumbs now, bitch! If the secretarybird was a person, it would be a hulked out meathead with a daily diet of weights and protein.
With the total badassery of this bird, it is no surprise that it is the national emblem of Sudan and also featured prominently on the Coat of Arms of South Africa.
Stay tuned for Part 2 in which we will discuss the awesomeness of other Birds of Prey.