Carnivorous Birds List - Examples of Birds of Prey With Photos (2023)

Carnivorous Birds List - Examples of Birds of Prey With Photos (1)

Birds have many characteristics in common, including feathers, beaks, lightweight bones and other features. Despite these similarities, the physical and behavioral characteristics of these animals are incredibly diverse. With around 10,000 extant bird species, we need to find ways to group them together so we can better understand them both as individuals and as larger species. One of criterion for categorizing birds is their diet, something which can vary significantly.

At AnimalWised, we look at one group in particular by presenting our list of carnivorous birds. We see examples of birds of prey and other carnivorous birds, as well as information about their diet, characteristics, and behaviors. We also show photos of these birds so you can see what they look like.

You may also be interested in: Herbivorous Birds - List of Herbivore Birds


  1. Characteristics of carnivorous birds
  2. Are all carnivorous birds considered birds of prey?
  3. What do carnivorous birds eat?
  4. Types of carnivorous birds
  5. Examples of carnivorous birds

Characteristics of carnivorous birds

Carnivorous birds are those that base their diet on the consumption of other animals. To do this, they have a series of features, both anatomical and physiological, that allow them to follow this type of diet. The common characteristics of carnivorous birds include:

  • The beaks of carnivorous birds are strong and curved downwards to better tear apart their prey.
  • Their legs are strong and have very sharp claws. These claws allow them to catch and hold prey, as well as help kill the captured animal once caught.
  • They have excellent vision which they use to spot potential prey.
  • The sense of hearing is also quite developed, allowing them to detect their prey more easily.
  • They are fast and agile fliers. The wings tend to be more rounded in carnivorous bird species that live in wooded areas. This allows them a great ability to maneuver through trees. Carnivorous birds that live in more open environments tend to have longer wings.
  • The digestive system is shorter compared to that of types of herbivorous birds which facilitates better digestion. Both powerful enzymes and hydrochloric acid concentrations are found in their gastrointestinal tract in amounts necessary to break down the meat they consume.
  • They are medium or large sized birds, a necessary characteristic for hunting prey.

Birds are not the only animals that can eat meat. Find out more with our list of carnivorous animals.

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Are all carnivorous birds considered birds of prey?

When we speak about carnivorous birds, we are discussing birds that eat food of animal origin. While this includes the meat of mammals, reptiles and even other birds, it also can include fish. Some may consider insects as part of this diet, but they are more accurately described as insectivorous animals if insects are the majority of their diet.

Some people us the terms ‘birds of prey’ or ‘raptors’ as a synonym for carnivorous birds. This is not inaccurate, but we should make a distinction. Birds of prey are hypercarnivorous birds, meaning their diet is over 70% meat. They also are active predators which should set them apart from other birds which more opportunistically.

Other predatory birds do not have the same structures, even if their diet is mainly made up of other animals. For example, we include the pelican on our list of carnivorous birds, but they do not have a sharp beak and claws, as raptors do. They hunt by scooping up fish and may be considered piscivorous birds. Essentially, all birds of prey are carnivores, but not all carnivorous birds are considered birds of prey. We look at the different types of carnivorous birds in more detail below.

Carnivorous Birds List - Examples of Birds of Prey With Photos (2)

What do carnivorous birds eat?

As their name suggests, the diet of carnivorous birds is based mainly on the consumption of meat. Feeding on meat is carried out in one of two main ways:

  • Through the direct capture of live animals.
  • By consuming carrion, in which case they are specifically designated as scavenger birds.

Although carnivorous birds have a predominantly animal-based diet, some species may include some plant matter. They are distinguished between omnivorous animals because meat makes up the majority of their diet. As stated above, birds of prey are considered hypercarnivores due to the very high percentage of meat in their diet.

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Carnivorous Birds List - Examples of Birds of Prey With Photos (3)

Types of carnivorous birds

Birds of prey are very agile and active hunters, chasing and catching a variety of prey. Within this group we also find a division in terms of hours of activity:

  • Nocturnal birds of prey: hunt for food mainly at night.
  • Diurnal birds of prey: mainly hunt during the daytime.

For example, owls and eagles are classified as birds of prey because of their excellent hunting capabilities, including flight, powerful talons and strong beaks. Penguins and pelicans, although primarily carnivorous, are not considered to be raptors as their hunting habits are very different.

Examples of carnivorous birds

Now that we know their main characteristics, we are going to see specific examples to discover more detail about the characteristics and the habits of meat-eating birds:

Owls and barn owls

Owls and barn owls are birds of prey that are taxonomically located in different families, but share certain traits in common. One of these commonalities is their carnivorous diet. These carnivorous birds are excellent hunters. They can be diurnal or nocturnal predators, depending on the species. They have excellent vision and hearing, as well as great stealth. They have the peculiarity of making flights almost imperceptible to their prey, since they manage to fly without causing noise, so they are not easily detected.

As specific examples we can mention the Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) and the barn owl (Tyto alba). Find out more about these fascinating creatures with our articles on where owls live and where owls live.

Eagles and ospreys

Eagles and hawks are also birds of prey, i.e. hypercarnivorous birds. They are a very diverse group that includes a significant variety of species spread over several continents. Many of these have names which are related to their main prey animal. Examples include ospreys, which are also known as fish hawks due to their habit of hunting fish from the sea, and snake eagles which prefer snakes and other reptiles.

Some examples of types of eagles include the harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja) and the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus).



Another example of carnivorous birds is the penguin, although they are very different from birds of prey. They are a very distinct type of carnivorous bird. Unlike the vast majority of birds, the penguin cannot fly. They have aquatic habits, but also spend a lot of time on land, especially when raising their young. Although their wings are not able to give them flight, they have been adapted to make them excellent swimmers.

The common diet of penguins is mainly fish and krill, meaning they are more piscivorous than true carnivores. Examples of these flightless birds include the emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) and the Galapagos penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus). The latter is the only type of penguin found above the equator.

Falcons and hawks

Falcons and hawks are also types of carnivorous bird, both considered part of the raptor group. They are agile hunters who use their long legs, sharp claws and curved beaks to capture and kill prey. Some examples are the Eurasian sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) and the bicolored falcon (Accipiter bicolor).


Pelicans are birds easily distinguished by their large size and very characteristic beaks. The latter has a large pouch underneath which is used to both deposit food and filter the water to later swallow the prey.

These carnivorous birds are aquatic in habit and feed mainly on fish, although they may eventually include other aquatic animals. Some species that we can mention are the great white pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus) and the American white pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos). You can read more background with our article on birds with long beaks.

Other examples of carnivorous birds:

Although we have mentioned some of the most common, there are many other types of carnivorous birds to be found. Some exciting examples of carnivorous birds include:

  • Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex)
  • Secretarybird (Sagittarius serpentarius)
  • Black-legged seriema (Chunga burmeisteri)
  • Taiwan blue magpie (Urocissa caerulea)
  • White stork (Ciconia ciconia)
  • Wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans)
Carnivorous Birds List - Examples of Birds of Prey With Photos (4)

If you want to read similar articles to Carnivorous Birds List - Examples of Birds of Prey, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.


  • Animal Diversity Web. (2020). Retrieved from:
  • Hickman, C., Roberts, L., & Parson A. (2000). Comprehensive Principles of Zoology. McGraw Hill Inter-American: Spain.
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What are the list of birds of prey? ›

Bird of prey

What are the birds of prey answer? ›

Hawks, owls, eagles, vultures and falcons are all types of birds of prey.

Are all birds of prey carnivores? ›

All raptors have a hooked beak, strong feet with sharp talons, keen eyesight, and a carnivorous diet.

What is the most common birds of prey? ›

It's the Red-Tailed Hawk!

They are about 18-26 inches tall, with a wingspan of 43-55 inches. They also weigh 1.5-3.5 pounds. Another common bird of prey you'll find is the Osprey. These are one of the most common birds of prey throughout the world.

What are the biggest birds of prey? ›

The Andean condor is the largest living bird of prey. The Eurasian black vulture is the largest Old World bird of prey.

Is Owl a bird of prey? ›

Owls are birds of prey known as raptors. Like all raptors, owls have sharp beaks and strong claws — called talons — that they use to catch and eat other animals for food. Other raptors include hawks, eagles, and falcons.

How many birds of prey are there? ›

More than 560 species of raptors live around the world and raptors can be found on every continent (except Antarctica). 4.

Is A Crow a bird of prey? ›

Crows are both predators and prey. As predators, they rob nests of songbirds and waterfowl, killing and eating newly hatched young, or cracking eggs. As prey, young crows and unhatched crow eggs are eaten by raccoons, opossums, and tree-climbing snakes. Hawks and owls kill nestling, fledgling, and adult crows.

Is An eagle A carnivore? ›

Eagles are carnivores and hunt during the day (they are diurnal). They use their sense of sight to find prey. An eagles can spot a rabbit from as far as a mile away.

Are falcons carnivorous? ›

Carnivores include most falcons, hawks, kites, eagles, vultures, owls, and shrikes. Piscivores include a variety of falcons, hawks, eagles, owls, kingfishers, grebes, wading birds (e.g., herons, egrets), and merganzers.

What is the smallest bird of prey? ›

American Kestrel, the smallest bird of prey in North America. Wildlife habitat, Red rock canyon national conservation area, Habitats.

What's the best birds of prey? ›

Discover the coolest types of birds of prey, including what specialized features they possess.
  1. Golden Eagle. Golden eagles can reach speeds up to 150 miles per hour. ...
  2. Harpy Eagle. Harpy eagles have the largest claws of any eagle. ...
  3. Northern Goshawk. ...
  4. Kestrel. ...
  5. Peregrine Falcon. ...
  6. Andean Condor. ...
  7. African Fish Eagle. ...
  8. Great Horned Owl.
Dec 1, 2022

What are three types of birds of prey? ›

Hawks, falcons, and eagles are three of the most skilled birds of prey. While birders are trained to identify these hunters by their plumage, people who have never experienced watching these birds end up mystified. Telling the difference between a falcon, a hawk, and an eagle is a common problem among many beginners.

What is the coolest bird of prey? ›

10 top birds of prey!
  • Hen harrier.
  • Kestrel.
  • Osprey.
  • Peregrine.
  • Red kite.
  • Short-eared owl.
  • Sparrowhawk.
  • White-tailed eagle.

What is the rarest bird of prey? ›

With fewer than 400 breeding pairs left in the wild, the Philippine Eagle is considered the world's rarest bird of prey and the future survival of the species is in doubt.

What is the deadliest bird of prey in the world? ›

#1: Southern Cassowary: The World's Most Dangerous Bird

The southern cassowary is known as the most dangerous bird on Earth.

What is the cutest bird of prey? ›

What is the cutest bird of prey?
  • Swainson's Hawk.
  • Swallow-tailed Kite.
  • Verreaux's Eagle.
  • Wedge-tailed Eagle.
  • White-bellied Sea Eagle.
  • White-tailed Eagle.
  • White-tailed Hawk.
  • White-tailed Kite.

What is the fastest bird of prey? ›

As swift as a speeding arrow and more rapid than a cheetah, the peregrine falcon is the fastest member of the animal kingdom, with a diving speed of more than 200 miles per hour.

What is a large bird of prey called? ›

Hawks include the bird-eating hawks such as the sparrowhawk, with broad, rounded wings and long, slender tails. Buzzards are mostly larger, longer-winged, substantial birds, which use broad wings for soaring. Eagles are much larger, with deep, arched, sharply-hooked bills, long, strong, curved claws.

What is the second largest bird of prey? ›

Andean Condor

What is the new bird of prey? ›

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), also known as Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey or simply Birds of Prey, is a 2020 American superhero film based on the DC Comics team, the Birds of Prey.

Are penguins birds of prey? ›

The term “Bird of Prey” could be used to indicate any bird that preys upon other animals, particularly vertebrates. Technically, this would include storks and penguins!

Are seagulls birds of prey? ›

Seagulls do share some superficial resemblance with an eagle, including a large body and hooked bill, but gulls are generally not considered to be birds of prey. They are more closely related to auks, plovers, and other shorebirds, whereas eagles are related to kites and vultures.

What is the small bird that looks like a hawk? ›

The American kestrel (Falco sparverius), also called the sparrow hawk, is the smallest and most common falcon in North America. It has a roughly two-to-one range in size over subspecies and sex, varying in size from about the weight of a blue jay to a mourning dove.

What is the largest bird of prey in the Americas? ›

Harpy Eagle: Largest Hunting Bird in the Americas

This apex predator, which is found in areas of extensive lowland forest in Central and South America, sports legs comparable in girth to a human arm and talons the size of Grizzly Bear claws.

What is a bird of prey USA? ›

Birds of Prey include; the condor, eagles, falcons, harrier, hawks, osprey, shrikes, vultures and more.

What is the apex bird of prey? ›

Many raptor species are considered apex predators. This group includes hawks, eagles, buzzards, harriers, kites, vultures and falcons. Raptors are birds characterized by powerful talons and beaks, and keen vision that allows them to detect prey during flight.

What eats an eagle? ›

What eats the eagle? An adult has no other natural predators in the wild. But eggs and chicks may be preyed upon by hawks, owls, raccoons, bobcats, and other carnivorous animals.

Is a common raven a bird of prey? ›

Why isn't a Raven a bird of prey? Ravens hunt other animals such as mice, small birds, fish and insects but they are not birds of prey. A Raven is designed with a powerful beak that it uses to stab its prey with.

Are vultures carnivorous? ›

Carnivore. Mainly carnivorous, the turkey vulture is a scavenger who will eat rodents, rabbits, other small mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and some vegetation. Raccoons, opossums, foxes, coyotes, and dogs.

What eats an owl? ›

Animals such as wildcats, foxes, raccoons, weasels, snakes, squirrels, hawks, skunks, and eagles eat owls. The access these predators have to these winged creatures depends on the owl's habitat, size, and species. Owls are at the high-end of the food chain, and luckily, they do not have many natural predators.

What does the Bible say about flying like an eagle? ›

They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Can falcons eat beef? ›

Beef heart is not a well balanced food as it is an organ meat, although many falconers have been known to only feed beef heart and supplement and have very healthy birds for years. It is lacking in calcium, but can easily be supplemented.

Can falcons hurt humans? ›

Falcons are very territorial and will utilize their razor sharp talons in defense of their domain, including attacks on humans.

What is bigger a hawk or falcon? ›

Size. Falcons are smaller birds than hawks which are generally large but with shorter wings compared to falcons. Hence why it is common to hear of a falcon referred to as a 'long wing'. As with other birds of prey, falcons and hawks also show sexual dimorphism.

What is the quietest bird of prey? ›

Owls are known as silent predators of the night, capable of flying just inches from their prey without being detected. The quietness of their flight is owed to their specialized feathers.

What bird kills its prey by dropping it? ›

Northern Mockingbird

But while ornithologists have long known that shrikes impale their prey, no one knew for certain how these songbirds managed to catch and kill relatively large vertebrates.

What is the best bird of prey for beginners? ›

Most Americans choose the redtail as their first bird, their only other choice is the kestrel (which can be trained to hunt starlings and other small birds, but won't fill your larder).

What is the most feared bird of prey? ›

#1 Great Horned Owl

This is one of the most dangerous birds because of its talons, curved sharp beak, and its aggressive way of hunting. The great horned owl is easily recognizable by the two tufts of feathers that stand up on its head like horns.

What is the most badass bird of prey? ›

Cassowaries, according to the Guinness Book of Records, are the world's most dangerous birds. Cassowaries are large flightless birds that live in the rain forests of Australia. They are capable of delivering fatal blows with their feet and their claws are like daggers capable of slicing you.

What is the meanest bird in the world? ›

The southern cassowary is often called the world's most dangerous bird. While shy and secretive in the forests of its native New Guinea and Northern Australia, it can be aggressive in captivity.

What is the #1 bird threat? ›

For instance, habitat loss is thought to pose by far the greatest threat to birds, both directly and indirectly, however, its overall impact on bird populations is very difficult to directly assess.


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