Order Accipitriformes / Diurnal Birds of Prey

    Order Accipitriformes

    This bird order contains species that live mainly as birds of prey, such as hawks, eagles and ospreys. Interestingly, all birds in this order are native to North America. Note that Falcons are not a part of Accipitriformes although it is one of the birds of prey. Now, Falcons belong to their own order Falconiformes, and according to DNA studies published in 2008, falcons are closely related to parrots and passerines!

    What is a Bird of Prey?

    Adler Raptor (Birds of prey)There are more than 9,000 different types of birds in the animal kingdom. Out of these, about 400 species of birds are called ‘Birds of Prey‘ meaning they hunt prey with their feet or feast on the flesh of dead animals. Birds of prey are also called ‘Raptors‘ derived from the Latin word ‘rapere‘ meaning “to seize“. Raptors kill their prey with their sharp talons and hooked beaks. Often they are also known as ‘Diurnal birds of prey‘ (i.e., day hunters).

    Characteristics of Accipitriformes

    One can always recognize a representative of this order by several traits:

    • Birds in this order are diurnal (i.e., they are active during the day).
    • These birds are usually medium to large-sized.
    • They have a sharp, hooked beak with visible nostrils.
    • These birds are known for their firm legs with massive sharp claws suitable for holding the prey and tearing it apart.
    • Almost all Accipitriformes birds are carnivorous – they eat the meat of other animals.
    • These birds typically have prominent, round eyes and hunt mainly by sight;
    • These flying hunters have powerful and broad wings.

    Accipitriformes Bird Examples

    Secretary Bird Secretary bird (Sagittarius serpentarius)
    California CondorCalifornia condor (Gymnogyps californianus)
    Long-legged BuzzardLong-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus)
    Bald EagleBald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
    Bateleur EagleBateleur Eagle (Terathopius ecaudatus)
    Short-toed Snake EagleShort-toed Snake Eagle (Circaetus gallicus)
    Pacific BazaPacific Baza (Aviceda subcristat)
    OspreyOsprey (Pandion Haliaetus)
    Red-tailed HawkRed-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
    Hook-billed KiteHook-billed Kite (Chondrohierax uncinatus)
    Black VultureBlack Vulture (Coragyps atratus)

    Cite This Page

    BioExplorer.net. (2023, October 01). Order Accipitriformes / Diurnal Birds of Prey. Bio Explorer. https://www.bioexplorer.net/order-accipitriformes/.
    BioExplorer.net. "Order Accipitriformes / Diurnal Birds of Prey" Bio Explorer, 01 October 2023, https://www.bioexplorer.net/order-accipitriformes/.
    BioExplorer.net. "Order Accipitriformes / Diurnal Birds of Prey" Bio Explorer, October 01 2023. https://www.bioexplorer.net/order-accipitriformes/.
    Key References
    • “06.30.2008 – Genetic study reshuffles bird family tree”. Accessed June 01, 2019. Link.
    • “Hawks, Eagles, Kites, and Allies (Order Accipitriformes) – iNaturalist.org”. Accessed May 25, 2019. Link.
    • Hook-billed Kite image is from Wikimedia under the creative commons license.


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