Learn About Raptors

What is a raptor?

A raptor is a carnivorous (meat-eating) bird. All raptors share at least three main characteristics:

  • Keen eyesight
  • Eight sharp talons
  • A hooked beak

Raptors, also called birds of prey, have existed in some form for 50 to 75 million years. There are approximately 482 species of raptor worldwide, 304 diurnal (day-active) species and 178 nocturnal (night-active) species. This does not include the seven species of New World vultures.

Identify raptors

Find out more about raptor species found in the upper Midwest, from how to spot them, to where they live, to what they eat. 

For help in identifying raptors, check out the Guide to Identification of Midwest Raptors (PDF).

Are some raptors in danger of being extinct?

Through our research and conservation efforts, The Raptor Center helps understand emerging health concerns and issues for raptor populations. For the international conservation status of a particular species read the IUCN red list

Curious about raptors? 

Here's some activities to keep you occupied until your next visit to The Raptor Center!

Close up of a raptor's eyes


A close up of a Bald Eagle's beak


Close up of a raptor's talons