Most birds of prey have drab plumage consisting primarily of brown, grey or white feathers that blend well with the palette of the surrounding landscape. Their eyes are forward-facing forward, an orientation that makes it easier for them to spot prey. The shape of their tail reflects their aerial behavior—species that require greater in-flight maneuverability have broad tails, species that rely more on speed than maneuverability have short tails, and species that require the ability to fly at slow speeds have forked tails. Raptors' sharp, hooked bills enables them to tear the flesh of their prey with ease.
The distribution of raptors varies among the subgroups. Falcons, hawks and ospreys are among the more cosmopolitan birds in the group, occurring on every continent except Antarctica. In contrast, the Secretary bird inhabits a restricted range in sub-Saharan Africa. New World vultures live only in North and South America. Within their various ranges, species occupy many different habitats including arctic, tundra, forest, deserts and coastlines.
Size and Weight:
The largest raptors are the Andean condors, whose wingspan can reach more than 9½ feet. On the smaller end of the spectrum are the lesser kestrel and the little sparrowhawk, birds whose wingspan is less than 2½ feet.