; class Aves, order Falconiformes)
The largest family of birds of prey, containing many cosmopolitan genera, especially Accipiter (sparrowhawks and goshawks), Buteo (buzzards or hawks), Circus (harriers), Elanus (kites), Haliaeetus (fish eagles), and Pernis (honey buzzards), which make up nearly half the family. Other genera are more restricted in range, and more than half are monotypic. Aquila chrysaetos (golden eagle) has a Holarctic distribution (there are 10 species of Aquila, found world-wide except for S. America and Malaysia). Hawk eagles (10 species of Spizaetus) occur widely in low latitude forests. Accipiters are generally carnivorous, preying on snails, insects, fish, mammals, reptiles, and birds; but one species, Gypohierax angolensis (palmnut vulture), feeds on oil-palm husks. Vultures (seven species of Gyps) have reduced talons which aid walking, inhabit open plains, mountains, and forests, feed on carrion, and nest in trees and on crags. There are 63 genera in the family, with more than 200 species.
Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.