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An osprey snags a fi sh from a river.

On the Hunt

A baby raptor also has to learn how to hunt. Diff erent raptors have diff erent ways of hunting. Eagles glide down quickly and take prey off the ground. Falcons dive even faster and catch birds in midair. Harriers fly slow and low, looking and listening for prey in bushes. Many raptors, like owls, hunt from perches.

T is is called still hunting. Here’s how it works. A barn owl will sit on top of something tall, like a telephone pole. It studies the ground, looking for movement. T e owl is listening for sounds that tell it

that rodents or other prey animals are nearby. When it spots prey, it launches itself from its perch and swoops down on its target. Raptors that hunt flying insects or other

birds capture prey in flight. T is is called hawking. Few raptors are better at this than the peregrine falcon. It’s the fastest living thing on Earth, able to reach speeds of 320 kph as it dives toward prey. A peregrine falcon flies high in the sky.

When it spots prey, it dives headfirst. When it reaches its prey, it strikes feet first, oſt en killing the prey instantly.



A raptor must also learn how to use its feet. T e size, shape, and strength of a raptor’s feet show what it’s capable of catching. For example, a red kite is about the size of

a small eagle, but its feet are small. It can only catch frogs, beetles, and mice. T e peregrine, however, is a small raptor with large feet. It can capture birds almost its size. T e martial eagle’s feet are large and strong

enough to break a person’s arm. T is eagle has no trouble catching and killing young ostriches and small antelopes in Africa. T e black eagle’s foot is larger than a

grownup’s hand. It hunts a fat rodent that looks like a guinea pig. Its big, powerful feet are perfect for grabbing these stout little animals. Some raptors have specialized feet that

help them hunt special things. Fish eagles are a good example. T ey have scaly feet. T at’s because they hunt fish. When a fish eagle grasps a slippery fish,

the fish gets caught on the scales and cannot wriggle away. T e bottom of this eagle’s legs are bare, not feathered. T at way, they dry quickly. It doesn’t have to fly around with wet feet.

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