Class: Aves Order: Falconiformes Family: Falconidae Number of species: 62 species
The birds in the falcon family are small to medium raptors (birds of prey). They include peregrines (PER-uh-grunz) , falconets, gyrfalcons (JERR-fal-kunz), merlins, kestrels, hobbies, and caracaras. They range in size from 5.5 to 25.6 inches (14 to 65 centimeters) from their beaks to the end of their tails. Like other raptors, falcons have sharp talons (claws) and hooked beaks, excellent eyesight, and pointed wings. Most falcons have feathers in shades of brown, black, white, and gray with some streaks or spots.
Falcons and caracaras live on every continent except Antarctica. They also live on many ocean islands.
Birds in the falcon family live in almost every kind of land habitat. Many of the falcons that live in northern areas migrate to places where there is a better supply of food in winter.
Falcons are carnivores (meat-eaters), and all but the caracaras feed on live animals. Some hunt other birds in the air and others grab animals on the ground. Kestrels hover above the ground, and many other falcons swoop down from perches. Although some falcons occasionally hunt in pairs, most of them hunt alone. They eat mostly birds, mammals, reptiles, and insects, and caracaras also eat carrion, including dead fish.
phylum class subclass order monotypic order suborder family
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