Except for vultures, raptors kill the animals they eat. Most raptors are not fussy—they will eat any animal they can catch. These animals include mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, insects, frogs, crabs, and snails. Some also eat eggs and garbage, and vultures eat carrion (dead animals). A few of the birds have special diets and eat only one or two kinds of prey.
Each type of raptor has a special way of hunting. A falcon usually catches its prey on the wing. It grabs the prey in midair with its talons and kills it with a bite to the neck. A small hawk usually sits on a perch and makes short flights to catch a mouse or other prey on the ground. The hawk squeezes it to death with its strong feet. Then it takes the prey to a perch to pluck it before eating it. Larger hawks and eagles hunt by riding high on warm air currents, and they have to wait until the air warms up each morning before flying off.
Some of the birds in the Falconiformes group have unusual ways of hunting. Kestrels are little falcons that hover in open areas, hunting for insects or small mammals. Secretary birds are in a family by themselves, and they are quite different from hawks and falcons. They are big birds with long legs and they usually run after their prey. When they catch it, they kick it to death.
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