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The word ‘raptor’ is an ancient one. It is Latin for a bird with a hooked beak and sharp claws and is perpetuated in (for example) the French and Italian . In theory, the term could embrace a range of different species, but in practice it is normally used for birds of prey of the Orders Falconiformes and Strigiformes. This chapter explains terminology, biology and natural history.

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1.1 Falconiformes. Harris’ Hawks. Their sociability makes them ideal hunting hawks for falconers. Sparrowhawk. Eurasian Buzzard. Black Kite, the most common raptor in the world. Merlin with chicks. Peregrine Falcon: the female is larger than the male. (b–e, © Michael Lierz; f, © John Chitty, reproduced from ) Saker Falcon. Golden Eagle. Eurasian Griffon Vulture. (g–i, © Michael Lierz)
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1.2 Owls. European Eagle Owl. Tawny Owl. Ferruginous Pygmy Owl: weighing less than 100 g, this is one of the world’s smallest owls. (a,b, © Michael Lierz; c, © John Chitty)
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1.3 Pigeons. Diamond Dove. Eurasian Collared Doves. Victorian Crowned Pigeon. (a, © John Chitty; b, © Michael Lierz; c, © ML Jowett)
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1.4 Passerine birds. House Sparrow, the ‘basic passerine’. European Chaffinch. European Goldfinch. Bearded Barbet. European Bee-eater. Superb Starling. Weavers, often kept because of the beauty and complexity of their nests rather than for the bird’s appearance. Sunbird, a nectivorous species. Greater Hill Mynah. (a,b,c, courtesy of Brian Stockdale; d,f,g,h,i, © John Chitty; e, © Michael Lierz)
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