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The ducks paddling around and scooping up breadcrumbs are harmless enough, but not all birds are so docile. Carnivorous birds -- often called raptors -- make up a large portion of all bird species. Eagles, hawks, falcons and others are active hunters, eating everything from fish, to rodents, to carrion, to other birds. Identifiable by their sharp beaks and talons (or claws) specially adapted to grasping prey, hunting birds make it easy to see where scientests have drawn a parallel between birds and their ancestors, the dinosaurs.

Raptors (birds of prey) do plenty of hunting for themselves, but that's not all. Since medieval times, humans have captured, tamed, and raised raptors to hunt for food. The sport, called falconry or hawking, depending upon what kind of bird is used, involves equipment like hoods, leashes, gloves, and lures, and requires a strong bond between bird and trainer, or a released bird could easily go back to the wild.


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For more fun facts, click on the individual birds on the left of the page.