Experienced birders will often use special terms when referring to birds of prey, and understanding this raptor vocabulary is essential to fully appreciating these magnificent birds.
Click on any term for a more detailed definition.
A large, elevated raptor nest, such as the bulky nest of an eagle. These nests are often reused year after year and can become very huge and heavy.
Refers to birds that eat only other animals. Bird of prey are carnivorous and will eat fish, large insects and a range of mammals, including mice, voles and rabbits.
Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, the highly toxic insecticide responsible for severe declines in raptor populations in the 1960s and 1970s. DDT accumulates in the food chain, causing top raptor predators to produce thin eggshells with high chick mortality.
A nestling raptor, specifically a falcon. These birds have not developed flight feathers and cannot leave the nest. This may also refer to a young bird in falconry training.
A soaring flock of raptors, typically seen during annual migrations in areas with suitable wind currents and abundant thermals to aid easy flight. Hawk watchers often gather to observe and count kettles for conservation projects.
Covering up a recent kill with the wings to conceal it from potential thieves. Many raptors will mantle over their prey as they eat.
A unique color variation of a bird of prey. Many types of raptors, most notably the red-tailed hawk, have several color morphs that are the same species but look very different with either light or dark plumage.
Graceful, easy flight made on rising thermal currents of warm air without any flapping. Large raptors such as hawks, eagles and vultures frequently soar while searching for prey.
The swift, sudden hunting dive made by a bird of prey, typically a falcon. These dives can reach great speeds, and the peregrine falcon has the fastest recorded stoop in the world with a top speed of approximately 200 miles per hour.
A bird of prey that is no longer a fledgling but has not yet achieved full maturity or adult plumage. Many raptors, such as eagles, take several years to fully mature and will go through different subadult plumages in that time.