A raptor is a bird of prey, a large, strong bird that feeds on smaller animals. Raptors are equipped with sharp talons and beaks for hunting.

Raptors are hunters, and they're also big, striking birds — the bald eagle is one example of a raptor. The difference between raptors and other birds that also eat animals (like gulls, for example) is that raptors use not only their beaks, but also their curved talons to catch their prey. Before it came to be used for these birds, raptor meant "abductor," from its Latin meaning, "robber, plunderer, or abductor," from rapere, "to seize."

Definitions of raptor
  1. noun
    any of numerous carnivorous birds that hunt and kill other animals
    synonyms: bird of prey, raptorial bird
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    Accipitriformes, order Accipitriformes
    in some classifications an alternative name for the Falconiformes
    diurnal bird of prey typically having short rounded wings and a long tail
    bird of Jove, eagle
    any of various large keen-sighted diurnal birds of prey noted for their broad wings and strong soaring flight
    any of various large diurnal birds of prey having naked heads and weak claws and feeding chiefly on carrion
    Sagittarius serpentarius, secretary bird
    large long-legged African bird of prey that feeds on reptiles
    bird of Minerva, bird of night, hooter, owl
    nocturnal bird of prey with hawk-like beak and claws and large head with front-facing eyes
    an unfledged or nestling hawk
    tercel, tercelet, tiercel
    male hawk especially male peregrine or gyrfalcon
    Accipiter gentilis, goshawk
    large hawk of Eurasia and North America used in falconry
    Accipiter nisus, sparrow hawk
    small hawk of Eurasia and northern Africa
    Accipiter cooperii, Cooper's hawk, blue darter
    bluish-grey North American hawk having a darting flight
    chicken hawk, hen hawk
    nontechnical term for any hawks said to prey on poultry
    any hawk of the genus Buteo
    Buteo jamaicensis, red-tailed hawk, redtail
    dark brown American hawk species having a reddish-brown tail
    Buteo lagopus, rough-legged hawk, roughleg
    large hawk of the northern hemisphere that feeds chiefly on small rodents and is beneficial to farmers
    Buteo lineatus, red-shouldered hawk
    North American hawk with reddish brown shoulders
    Buteo buteo, buzzard
    the common European short-winged hawk
    Pernis apivorus, honey buzzard
    Old World hawk that feeds on bee larvae and small rodents and reptiles
    any of several small graceful hawks of the family Accipitridae having long pointed wings and feeding on insects and small animals
    hawks that hunt over meadows and marshes and prey on small terrestrial animals
    harrier eagle, short-toed eagle
    any of numerous large Old World hawks intermediate in some respects between typical hawks and typical eagles
    diurnal birds of prey having long pointed powerful wings adapted for swift flight
    a young eagle
    Harpia harpyja, harpy, harpy eagle
    large black-and-white crested eagle of tropical America
    Aquila chrysaetos, golden eagle
    large eagle of mountainous regions of the northern hemisphere having a golden-brown head and neck
    Aquila rapax, tawny eagle
    brownish eagle of Africa and parts of Asia
    American eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, bald eagle
    a large eagle of North America that has a white head and dark wings and body
    sea eagle
    any of various large eagles that usually feed on fish
    Pandion haliaetus, fish eagle, fish hawk, osprey, sea eagle
    large harmless hawk found worldwide that feeds on fish and builds a bulky nest often occupied for years
    Aegypiidae, family Aegypiidae
    in some classifications considered the family comprising the Old World vultures which are more often included in the family Accipitridae
    Old World vulture
    any of several large vultures of Africa and Eurasia
    New World vulture, cathartid
    large birds of prey superficially similar to Old World vultures
    young owl
    Athene noctua, little owl
    small European owl
    horned owl
    large owls having prominent ear tufts
    Strix nebulosa, great gray owl, great grey owl
    large dish-faced owl of northern North America and western Eurasia
    Strix aluco, tawny owl
    reddish-brown European owl having a round head with black eyes
    Strix varia, barred owl
    large owl of eastern North America having its breast and abdomen streaked with brown
    Otus asio, screech owl
    small North American owl having hornlike tufts of feathers whose call sounds like a quavering whistle
    screech owl
    any owl that has a screeching cry
    scops owl
    any of several small owls having ear tufts and a whistling call
    Strix occidentalis, spotted owl
    a large owl of North America found in forests from British Columbia to central Mexico; has dark brown plumage and a heavily spotted chest
    hoot owl
    any owl that hoots as distinct from screeching
    Surnia ulula, hawk owl
    grey-and-white diurnal hawk-like owl of northern parts of the northern hemisphere
    Asio otus, long-eared owl
    slender European owl of coniferous forests with long ear tufts
    Sceloglaux albifacies, laughing jackass, laughing owl
    almost extinct owl of New Zealand
    Tyto alba, barn owl
    mottled buff and white owl often inhabiting barns and other structures; important in rodent control
    type of:
    warm-blooded egg-laying vertebrates characterized by feathers and forelimbs modified as wings
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