Feed on a range of prey, with some feeding on carrion, but all have a nasty hooked bill

Raptors like kites, Old World vultures, sparrowhawks, buzzards, booted eagles, fish eagles, snake eagles, hawks, large eagles, and harriers are all in this family.

Members of the Accipitridae family share several key characteristics. A prominent feature is the hooked beak, which is strong and curved downward, designed for tearing flesh. This adaptation is critical for their carnivorous diet, which mainly consists of small mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, and carrion, depending on the species.

Nesting behavior in Accipitridae is varied, but most species build large, sturdy nests out of sticks and vegetation, often in high places like trees or cliffs to keep their young safe from ground predators. Old World vultures are an exception; some species do not build nests but instead lay their eggs on bare cliff ledges or cave floors.

The wings of Accipitridae birds are typically broad and powerful, suited for soaring and gliding, while their strong legs and taloned feet are adapted for hunting and carrying prey. A characteristic of some species is the presence of a supraorbital ridge over the eyes, giving them a fierce appearance and offering protection from sunlight and debris while hunting.

Sexual dimorphism in size is common in this family, with females generally larger than males. This size difference may reduce competition between the sexes for food and other resources. Despite this size variation, the plumage of both sexes is often similar within a species.

The coloration of their feathers is typically subdued, with browns, grays, and whites predominating. These colors provide excellent camouflage in their respective environments, whether it’s a hawk blending into the leafy canopy or a desert eagle matching the sandy tones of its arid landscape.

Accipitridae are critical players in their ecosystems, acting as top predators that help control populations of various prey species and maintain ecological balance. However, many species in this family face threats from habitat loss, pollution, and in some regions, persecution and overhunting.