Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
These terms collectively describe the hawks, eagles, and falcons of North Dakota. Hawks, eagles, and falcons are types of birds known as raptors. Raptors are birds that have evolved three specific anatomical features that separate them from all other avian species: (1) strong grasping feet with sharp talons, (2) a hooked upper beak, and (3) superb vision.
Because of these special evolutionary adaptations, raptors have become excellent predators. Although rodents and insects make up the bulk of a raptor's diet, many people have mistakenly blamed raptors for declines in gamebird populations. Raptors will concentrate on prey that is abundant and relatively easy to catch. Also, raptors will not kill without being hungry because of the risk of injury.
The following guide describes where raptors can be found in the state, what time of year they can be seen, plumage characteristics to help aid in identification, and the general ecology of each raptor. A range map separating the state into geological regions has been provided below to help you locate the region where each raptor can be found. The illustrations on the back cover will aid in identifying raptor species. A good pair of binoculars or spotting scope are highly recommended when viewing raptors. This will allow you to bring the raptors in close for a good view and make the experience much more enjoyable.