Birds of prey have claws

Foot or muzzle

The word “bird of prey” alone indicates a very conspicuous characteristic of this group of species: the specially designed foot with more or less long and curved claws to hold the prey. Depending on the preferred prey of the respective species, their foot (also called "catch") is designed very differently:

The osprey, for example, has particularly long and strongly curved claws, a roughened toe skin for better holding on to its fish food and, as the only type, a reversible toe, also an adaptation to its special diet, which enables it to grip with two toes from the front and back can (in all other birds of prey, 3 toes are pointing forward and one is pointing backwards). Due to the presence of this turning toe, among other things, the osprey is the only member of its family (Pandionidae) related to the species-rich family of hawk relatives (Accipitridae) and that of the falcons (Falconidae).

Particularly powerful catches are found in those species that catch noticeably large and heavy prey relative to their own body size, for example the white-tailed eagle and the hawk.

Species that feed partly or primarily on flying, warm-blooded prey (birds, bats), such as the sparrowhawk and peregrine falcon, have particularly long toes to better grip their prey.

The short-toed eagle, a species specializing in reptile fishing, represents the opposite form of adaptation: its toes are rather short, which gives it advantages in the case of the rather slim reptiles.

The honey buzzard and the vulture represent extreme cases: Their claws are short and only slightly curved. The honey buzzard is primarily used to scratch when it digs up the nests of ground-dwelling wasps. The vultures feed almost exclusively on the carcasses of dead animals. In both cases, long claws are not necessary or even more of a hindrance (frequent stay on the ground).