What makes a raptor a raptor?
AThe term ‘raptor’, interchangeable with ‘bird of prey’, refers to an avian species that hunts other higher vertebrates (reptiles, birds and mammals). The name is applied to kites, vultures, harriers, hawks, buzzards, falcons and eagles, plus the secretary bird (owls are not technically raptors). Not all of the species covered by the term are related taxonomically, so in a sense ‘raptor’ describes a certain predatory lifestyle and the physical characteristics associated with it – predominantly the hooked beak and sharp talons. Globally, there are some 350 species of diurnal raptor, divided into roughly 80 genera within five families and two sub-families. Particularly interesting is the way in which raptor characteristics have evolved independently within different families to produce similar-looking birds, underlining the importance of these features for hunting.
Kestrels are mediumsized falcons and denizens of open country. They watch for their vole prey from perches or while hovering.