(noun) The sharp, hooked claw at the end of a bird's toe. Talons are most prominent on carnivorous birds that need to catch and dismember prey, such as hawks, eagles and owls, but all bird species have talons. In addition to catching prey, talons are necessary for gripping a surface while perched, climbing trees (as in woodpeckers, nuthatches and similar species), preening, digging a burrow or scrape for a nest and foraging through leaf litter. For aggressive or territorial species, talons may also be necessary for defense.
Talons are made of keratin and continue growing throughout a bird's life as they are continually worn down through use. The length, thickness and curvature of talons varies for each bird species and what the talons are used for, with the longest and most prominent talons found in birds of prey.
Photo – Talons © Damien du Toit