IL Birds of Prey -- Amazing Adaptations
Birds of prey have
special adaptations or "tools of trade" that greatly enhance their
hunting skills. They have excellent hearing, sharp talons and keen eyesight.
Ear openings on
each side of the head behind and beneath the eyes provide birds of prey with
excellent hearing. Their ears don't look like ours and are usually hidden by
feathers. Some owls have ear tufts which are feathers that stick up over the
ear and aid in directing the sound into the ear holes. Owls and harriers also
have a facial disk (round face) that helps funnel sound into the ear openings.
of prey have a talon, or claw, on the tip of each their eight toes. Talons are
made of keratin and are extremely sharp. The downward-curved shape, sharpness
and length of the talons make it difficult for these birds to walk. Strong leg
muscles, strong toes and sharp talons provide the necessary weapons to obtain
food. Some birds of prey can crush the vertebrae of their victim with their
toes! Muscles and talons allow these birds to carry their prey with their toes
as they fly.
that makes birds of prey efficient predators is keen eyesight. These birds have
the best eyes in the animal kingdom. Not only can they see greater distances
than humans, but their visual acuity (ability to see clearly) is eight times
that of ours. Their eyesight is as sharp as that of a human looking through
eight power binoculars! As a result of its powerful vision, a red-tailed hawk
can see a rabbit one mile away.
The eyes of birds
of prey are so large that they have no room to move within their eye sockets.
Since they cannot roll their eyes, they have very long, flexible necks which
help them to turn their heads almost backwards.
Ask a friend to hold an open book toward you. Stand in front of the book and
back up until the words are hardly visible. Read two or three sentences of the
book. Measure the distance from you to the book. Multiply
that distance by eight and move back that many feet from the book. Try to read
the book again. If you had the eyesight of an eagle, you could still read that
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