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Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Raptors

Raptors are well known as the lords of the skies and are dramatic hunters. Their name is derived from the Latin word raptare, which means to seize. Eeagles, hawks, buzzards, harriers, kites, falcons, vultures and the Secretarybird are found in this group. The Strigiformes – the night hunters, which includes some owls – are also...

Raptors are well known as the lords of the skies and are dramatic hunters. Their name is derived from the Latin word raptare, which means to seize. Eeagles, hawks, buzzards, harriers, kites, falcons, vultures and the Secretarybird are found in this group. The Strigiformes – the night hunters, which includes some owls – are also classified as raptors.

We admire birds for their beauty and their ability to fly. Most importantly birds are admired for the role they play in the ecosystem. Raptors are as important as any other bird group in the wild. These bird serve as barometers of ecological health. Birds of prey are predators at the top of the food chain, because threats like pesticides, habitat loss, and climate change have a dramatic impact on top predators, these are referred to as indicator species.

Thank you to all the photographers that submitted photos of birds with the theme #Raptors. These pictures create awareness about the variety and beauty of birds in our environment. Here we present the Top 25 photographs of birds of the week.

The Bald Eagle is a bird of prey found in North America. It is an opportunist feeder with fish constituting most of its diet. Photo taken in Alaska, USA (Rhonda Lane)
Another name for the Barking Owl is Winking Owl. It is a nocturnal bird species found in the mainland of Australia and parts of Papua New Guinea and the Moluccas. Photographed in Darwin (Northern Territory), Australia (Harn Sheng Khor)
The Barn Owl. This is the most widely distributed owl species and one of the most widespread of all birds. The Barn Owl is found everywhere in the world except polar and desert regions. Photo taken in Howrah, India (Subham Chowdhury)
Black Kites can be distinguished from Red Kites by the slightly smaller size, less forked tail and generally dark plumage without the rufous colour. Photographed at Ahmedabad Outskirt, Gujarat, India (Jay Patel)
Blyth’s Hawk-eagle photographed in Pahang, Malaysia Julian (Chong Zhui Heng)
The Bonelli’s Eagle is a large bird of prey. This bird has spotty and sparse worldwide distribution. Like most raptorial birds, Bonneli’s Eagles live mainly in solitary or in breeding pairs. Photo taken in Pune (Tejashri Raghunath)
The Brahminy Kite is found in the Indian Subcontinent, northeast Asia, and Australia. It was formerly known as the Red-baked Sea-eagle in Australia. An easy place to see them would be mainly on the coast and in inland wetlands where they feed on dead fish and other prey. Photo taken in Odisha, India (Aparna Mondal)
Common Kestrel, also known as the Eurasian Kestrel, European Kestrel or Old World Kestrel, is known to be sedentary but in the cool-temperate parts of its range, the Common Kestrel migrates south in winter. Photo taken at Dhanauri Wetland, Greater Noida, India (Dr. Sanjay Solanki)
The Northern Crested Caracara is also known as the Northern Caracara or Crested Caracara. It is a resident bird in Cuba, northern South America and most of central America and Mexico. This species inhabits different types of open and semi-open country. They live in lowlands it can live to mid-elevation in the northern Andes. Photo taken in New Jersey, USA (Anne Harlan)
the Crested Hawk Eagle or Changeable Hawk-eagle photographed in Ramnagar, Uttarakhand (Kumar Kumud Gangesh)
The Crested Serpent Eagle, as its English name suggests, is a reptile eater which hunts over forests, often close to wet grassland, for snakes and lizards. This photograph was taken at the Tadoba National Park, Maharashtra (Raghuvamsh Chavali)
The Egyptian Vulture, sometimes called the White Scavenger Vulture or Pharoah’s Chicken, is a small Old World vulture and the only member of the genus Neophron. The use of tools is rare in birds and Egyptian Vultures make use of twigs to roll up wool for use in their nest. Photo taken at the National Chambal Sanctuary, India (Gargi Biswas)
Indian Vulture Photographed at Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India (Alok Katkar)
The Long-legged Buzzard is similar in appearance to the Rough-legged Buzzard but it is larger and more robust. The Long-legged Buzzard is found in dry pen plains of northern Africa, southeastern Europe, west and central Asia east to China, and across central India. Photographed in New Delhi, India (Nishant Rana)
Female Oriental Honey Buzzard, also known as the Crested Honey Buzzard. Photo in Nagpur outskirts, India (Prasad V Pendharkar)
The Western Osprey, is sometimes called the Sea Hawk, River Hawk or Fish Hawk, is a fish-eating bird of prey with a cosmopolitan range. This bird tolerates a wide variety of habitats, nesting in any place located close to a water body which provides adequate food supply. Here, the bird is seen with a tilapia at the Bubali Bird Sanctuary, Aruba (Michiel Oversteegen)
The Peregrine Falcon is known for its speed, reaching over 320 km/h (200 mph) during its characteristic hunting stoop, making it the fastest bird in the world and the fastest member of the animal kingdom. Photographed at Little Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, India (Dr.Divya Srivastava)
The Red-tailed Hawk is one of the widely distributed of all raptors in Americas, occupying the largest breeding range of any diurnal raptor north of the Mexico border. Red-tailed Hawks have shown the ability to become habituated to almost any habitat present in North and central America (Henser Villela)
The Shikra is found in a range of habitats including farmlands, forests and urban areas. The Shikra was considered to be the favourite among falconers in India and Pakistan due to the ease with it could be trained and was frequently used to procure food for the more prised falcons. Photographed in Haryana, India (Subhamoy Das)
The Short-eared Owl is found to occur in all continents except Antarctica and Australia. This makes it one of the most widely distributed bird species. Owl typically hunt at night, but this owl is known to be diurnal and crepuscular as well. Photographed at th Dhanauri Wetland, Greater Noida, India (Dr. Sanjay Solanki)
The Short-toed Snake Eagle can also be called the Short-toed Eagle. It is an Old World species found throughout the Mediterranean basin, into Russia and the Middle East, and parts of Asia. This species mostly prey on reptiles, mainly snakes, but it can also be seen taking lizards. Photo taken in Gajoldoba, West Bengal (Pritam Kumar Ghosh)
The Snowy Owl is a large, white owl of the true owl family. Snowy Owls are found in the Arctic regions in North America and Eurasia. Males of this species are almost all white, while females have more flecks of black plumage. Photo taken in New York, USA (Jack Catalina)
Tawny Eagles breed in most parts of Africa, both north and south of the Sahara Desert, and across tropical southwestern Asia to India. This species is a resident breeder which lays one to three eggs in a stick nest in a tree, crag or on the ground. Photographed in Kota, India (Asha Sharma)
White-eyed Buzzard seen at Pench Tiger Reserve, India (Dr. Sanjay Solanki)
White-tailed Eagle: this eagle breeds in northern Europe and northern Asia. Their European range extends to as far as southeastern Greenland, northern and eastern Iceland and reintroduced populations are found in some areas of Ireland and Scotland. Photo taken in Isle of Mull, Scotland (Julia Browne)

Our mission is to build a global community around the freedom and beauty of birds in the wild as ambassadors for the natural ecosystems that they depend upon. They are the music, decoration, and character of every terrestrial habitat on the planet and have been around since the dinosaurs. They are the witnesses and ambassadors of the awesome power of nature. The wide availability of good, cheap optics has opened their world to us for the last few decades. Amazing, affordable DSLR cameras with long lenses are delivering brilliant digital bird imagery to online communities.

We are in a day-and-age during which more bird species are threatened with extinction than ever before. The Wild Birds! Revolution aims to publish the “Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week” to 1 million people every week by the end of the year. That is a revolution that will change the world! Join thousands of other weekend naturalists, photographers, birders, experts, hikers, nature-lovers, guides, scientists, conservationists and artists that share the thousands of wild bird photographs submitted to the Wild Bird Trust website and Facebook page. Thousands of wild bird enthusiasts are going out every day to photograph our planet’s beautiful birdlife. Pick up your camera, fill your bird feeder, open your heart, and join the Wild Birds! Revolution!!

Edited by Abigail Ramudzuli, Campaign Manager

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Meet the Author

Steve Boyes
Steve Boyes has dedicated his life to conserving Africa's wilderness areas and the species that depend upon them. After having worked as a camp manager and wilderness guide in the Okavango Delta and doing his PhD field work on the little-known Meyer's Parrot, Steve took up a position as a Centre of Excellence Postdoctoral Fellow at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology. He has since been appointed the Scientific Director of the Wild Bird Trust and is a 2014 TED Fellow. His work takes him all over Africa, but his day-to-day activities are committed to South Africa's endemic and Critically Endangered Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus). Based in Hogsback Village in the Eastern Cape (South Africa), Steve runs the Cape Parrot Project, which aims to stimulate positive change for the species through high-quality research and community-based conservation action. When not in Hogsback, Steve can be found in the Okavango Delta where he explores remote areas of this wetland wilderness on "mokoros" or dug-out canoes to study endangered bird species in areas that are otherwise inaccessible. Steve is a 2013 National Geographic Emerging Explorer for his work in the Okavango Delta and on the Cape Parrot Project.