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Raptors: Hawks and Owls

Hawk Barred Owl predators raptors Birds of prey
Every class of animals boasts their own "apex predator," an animal at or near the top of the food chain. When you think of these predators, you generally think of large beasts with sharp claws or rows of teeth.  Birds probably aren't the first thing to come to mind! But here in the forest, there are certain birds that are very well equipped for taking down prey. These birds, known as raptors, are the perfect combination of swift and silent.

On the left, you'll see a hawk, and on the right, a barred owl. One hunts by day and the other by night, respectively, but both share similar features. Their large eyes allow them to spot their prey from great distances, and a thick coat of feathers allows them to swoop in silently. Like other raptors, hawks and owls have sharp claws called talons to grasp and carry away their prey. Their curved, pointed beaks are perfect for finishing the job.

Where I live, owls and hawks play an important role in the food chain by helping to keep the rodent population down. Raptors eat a wide range of prey, including fish, small mammals, other birds, reptiles and amphibians, and insects.  They are excellent hunters, and are a bit elusive. I was lucky enough to hear this barred owl hooting, but would have otherwise walked right past it. The next time you go on a walk in the woods, think about the fact that there is probably an owl watching you from a nearby tree branch!

Rainforest Kids Science curriculum connection: Unit 5 Ch 1 Lesson 2 Gr 2 ;  Unit 5 Ch 1 Lesson 2, Gr 4 ; Unit 2 Ch 1 Lesson 3 Gr 5 ; Unit 3 Ch 4 Lesson 2 Gr 5 ; Unit 5 Ch 1 Lesson 2 Gr 5

Nature blogger Liam Mahoney
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