What is a Bird of Prey?
“Bird of prey” refers to eagles, hawks, falcons, ospreys and owls; all of which are adapted for a lifestyle of aerial hunting. These birds are also called raptors, from the Latin raptor (a robber) and rapere (to seize) referring to their ability to seize and carry off prey. Raptors share several characteristics including:
- Powerful talons for gripping and killing prey
- Sharp, curved beaks for tearing food
- Keen eyesight to spot prey from great distances
Why are Birds of Prey so important?
The presence of raptors in the wild serves as a barometer of ecological health. Birds of prey are predators at the top of the food chain; because pesticides, drought and habitat loss have the most dramatic impact on top predators, we refer to them as indicator species. The raptors also play an important ecological role by controlling populations of rodents and other small mammals.
Why do these birds live at ACES?
As a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center, ACES cares for injured and orphaned wild animals. Unfortunately, some animals cannot be returned to the wild. A few of these non-releasable animals continue to live at ACES and are used in educational programs with permission from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Colorado Division of Wildlife. They are fed a varied diet including mice, rats, quail, elk, deer and vitamins.
Currently, ACES is home to a Golden Eagle and a Great Horned Owl. These birds help to promote appreciation and understanding of raptors and inspire support for long-term protection. ACES' resident birds of prey are accustomed to close encounters with humans but remain wild at heart.