What is a raptor exactly? This group of birds is known for their predatory habits of feeding on other animals (amphibians, reptiles, mammals, etc.). The word "raptor" comes from the Latin word "rapere" which means to seize or take by force. It generally refers to birds of prey. All raptors have excellent binocular vision, keen hearing, a hooked bill, strong legs and feet, and razor-sharp talons! These anatomical features allow them to be great hunters.
North America is home to a whopping 30 species of hawks, falcons, and eagles! In addition, there are 18 different owl species. Throughout the 20th century, these animals have been assailed by a variety of human disturbances: habitat loss, shooting, and environmental contaminants to name a few. Osprey, Bald Eagles, and Peregrine Falcons saw declines in their populations as the direct result of the use of the pesticide DDT. Rachel Carson's Silent Spring was instrumental in bringing about the ban on DDT. Osprey, Peregrine Falcons, and Bald Eagles have seen rebounds in their populations over time after the ban of this pesticide. Despite these recoveries, though, many other species are still in decline; it isn't enough to protect and restore just one area. Migrant raptors and other birds need help as degrading conditions along their migratory routes and wintering grounds are negatively impacting their numbers. And other species are still imperilled as habitat loss and alteration continues.
Not all raptor species are in decline, though! Some have adapted well; Cooper's and Sharp-Shinned Hawks are agile woodland fliers. Both species prey on other birds (songbirds such as doves and pigeons) and can become a nuisance at a bird feeder! The introduction of bird feeders to urban and suburban areas has made finding a meal a little easier for these species.
Corkscrew's diversity of habitats supports 15 raptor species. Some species are year-round residents and more commonly seen while others might just be passing through during migration or when dispersing from its parents.