Eagles chase people

Birds of prey

Birds of prey as a symbol of power

For humans, the birds of prey that occur around the world have been shrouded in secrets since time immemorial. In many cultures, griffins served as mythological symbols or as heraldic animals.

Due to its size, the eagle is regarded as the king of the skies and is a symbol of power, strength and superiority. In Germany, as a federal eagle, it is a symbol of the strength and sovereignty of the state.

From bird of prey to bird of prey

But for a long time the animals, popularly known as "birds of prey", were hunted and killed because they were believed to have many negative properties. In some people, they cause discomfort.

This may have something to do with their silent way of moving, but also with the fact that they hunt live prey and occasionally do not disdain carrion.

These are all positive properties, because birds of prey keep the population of many pests - such as voles and insects - small. In addition, they often prey on sick or weak animals, remove animal corpses and thus contribute to the biological balance.

Today the danger of the extinction of some birds of prey, which existed just a few decades ago, has been averted. Because meanwhile all species occurring in Germany enjoy all-year-round closed season, so they are no longer allowed to be hunted.

Biological facts

The order of the birds of prey (also Falconiformes) is characterized by the fact that the animals mainly feed on carnal food and grab their prey from flight with their claws.

Since the name "birds of prey", which was used in the past, also applies to many other birds, it is no longer used as an ordinal name. Most of the birds of prey go hunting during the day.

Some characteristics are characteristic of all species: their very good eyesight, the downwardly curved hooked bill, strong legs and the feet with sharp claws.

The females are often larger than the males, probably in order to be able to defend themselves better against the aggressive courtship behavior of the males. The body length of birds of prey ranges from 14 to 115 centimeters.

The birds like to nest on trees or rocks, but some also build their eyrie in the reed or on the ground, as the birds of prey's nest is called.

Some species, for example many falcons, take over empty nests of other birds or use already existing fixed bases. The clutch consists of several eggs, but some species only raise one young.

The hatched cubs are nestled and are initially looked after by their parents. If they are fully fledged, they must first learn to hunt. They start with easy-to-catch prey.

The habitat of many birds of prey is divided into the eyrie field and the prey field, because there is no hunting in the vicinity of the nest. The size of the hunting area depends on the prey performance.

Hawk-like and hawk-like birds of prey

In Central Europe a distinction is made between the hawk-like family - with around 24 very different species, around 235 worldwide - and that of the falcon-like - with eight species of falcon, around 52 worldwide.

The hawk-like family includes eagles, hawks, buzzards, kites, harriers and vultures. Incidentally, owls and eagle owls are not counted among the birds of prey, they form their own order.

The osprey - a successful hunter

The hunting technique of the osprey in the water is noteworthy. If he has spotted a fish up to 50 meters above sea level during the prey flight, he starts diving from the flight with far forward stretched out grasping feet and bent wings. In two hundredths of a second, the long spiked claws close around the prey.

But now the bird has to do hard work, because in order to pull itself and the prey out of the water, it has to muster enormous strength. With the help of its tail, it pushes itself off the surface of the water after surfacing, which is why its technique is also called shock diving.

If the fish is too heavy, he has to let go of it. Ospreys can dive up to a meter deep. Their plumage is protected from moisture by fat.

The ospreys resident in our country hibernate in the Mediterranean, Southwest Asia and Africa. When migrating in autumn and spring, they can therefore be seen hunting in larger lakes and rivers all over Germany.