If the word raptor conjures up images of an attack from above, you have a good idea of what this class of predator is. According to environmentalist Phillip Elden, a raptor is simply a bird of prey that hunts during the day.
A bird of prey is an animal that hunts for dinner while flying through the air. They have vision that far surpasses regular flying animals and can easily spot their next meal while moving at great speeds hundreds of feet away. Raptors, like all birds of prey, have the best naturally-occurring eyesight with unparalleled ability to focus on moving prey. Further, their depth perception is unmatched.
An example of a raptor would be a condor, vulture, or eagle. Phillip Elden explains that raptors are physically different than other birds. They are powerfully built with sharp claws called talons. Using their talons, along with a large, curved beak and extreme speed, raptors and other birds of prey can transport their kill for long distances.
Phillip Elden is often asked about the raptor diet. He explains that the vast majority of these predators eat small vertebrates. Often, their daily intake of food might include small mammals, birds, and even fish since a raptor can spot a moving target underwater and can then dive to acquire their next meal. Many raptors not only hunt for their dinner, but they also take advantage of carrion, or animal carcasses. Eating the dead allows them to survive when other food sources are scarce.
Movies like Jurassic Park have increased the public’s interest in raptors, says Phillip Elden. However, he explains that the velociraptors in the movie, although once real creatures, looked more like birds and were the size of a child, much smaller and less reptilian than the big screen portrays.
Phillip Elden stresses that because raptors and other birds of prey at the top of the food chain, they often are often hunted, endangering the longevity of these majestic creatures.