The Raptor's Roost

Click here to download a pdf version!  PDF version available!

Welcome to
The Raptor's Roost!

This part of the Great Plains Nature Center website is from the booklet
"A Pocket Guide to Kansas Raptors".

Use the links below or click on a bird in the roost to find out more about these masters of the sky!

What are Raptors?
Can anyone keep a Raptor?
Raptors and the Law
Classification of Raptors

Background on the Booklet and how you can get one

What are Raptors? They are birds of prey and include some kinds that fly during the day such as hawks, eagles, vultures and falcons, and others that fly at night (owls). They are primarily hunters or scavengers and feed on animals ranging in size from rabbits and skunks to insects.   Most raptors have a hooked beak for tearing meat and talons for killing their prey.   Of the 53 species of raptors found in the United States and Canada, 30 occur regularly in Kansas and an additional six species have made rare appearances.

Can anyone keep a Raptor?   No.  Only zoos, certain educational & scientific institutions, licensed rehabilators and falconers may possess raptors.   Every year, the lives of young raptors are needlessly jeopardized by well-intentioned people who take them from the wild in the mistaken belief that the animals are abandoned or orphaned and will die if not given care. Young raptors are often left unattended throughout much of the day. It is against the law to remove young raptors from the wild.  If you find a raptor with an injury, note its location and contact a licensed rehabilitator in your area.  Click here for a list.

What is falconry? Falconry is the sport of using trained raptors to hunt wild game.  Click here to learn more about it.

Are Raptors protected?   Yes, but hawks and owls have only had legal protection since 1972.  Prior to that time, it was commonly believed these birds were at best nuisances and at worst, in competition with humans for wild game. We now know fluctuations in game animals are most attributable to habitat changes. Raptors play a vital role in consuming rodents and carrion, keeping the Kansas ecosystem in balance.  Click here to learn more about what the law says.

How are Raptors classified? All birds belong to the Class Aves. The raptors of Kansas are within two Orders: the Falconiformes (New World vultures, osprey, hawks, harriers, kites, eagles and falcons) and the Strigiformes (owls).

Within those orders, the classification looks like this:

Family Cathartidae:
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Family Accipitridae:
Mississippi Kite
Northern Harrier
Golden Eagle
Bald Eagle
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Northern Goshawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Swainson’s Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk
Family Falconidae:
American Kestrel
Prairie Falcon
Peregrine Falcon
Family Tytonidae:
Barn Owl
Family Strigidae:
Eastern Screech Owl
Great Horned Owl
Snowy Owl
Burrowing Owl
Barred Owl
Long-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl
Rare Kansas species
Swallow-tailed Kite
White-tailed Kite
Harris’s Hawk
Gray Hawk
Western Screech Owl
Flammulated Owl

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Go to Birds in Kansas.

Raptor's Roost
Text: Bob Gress and Vanessa Avara
Web Design: Jim Mason

Questions or comments?  Send Email to Jim Mason Spidey
Or write us at: 
Great Plains Nature Center
6232 E. 29th Street North
Wichita, KS 67220-2200             Call:  316-683-5499            Fax:  316-688-9555