October is Raptor Month.
At least it used to be.
Between 2006 and 2012 there was a Raptor Month website. According to the site, the month was a project of The Avian Promise, Inc. And it was supposed to celebrate birds of prey.
As far as we can tell, neither the Raptor Month nor Avian Promise websites still exist. But you can see how Raptor Month looked in 2011 on the Wayback Machine.
But none of this means we can’t still celebrate Raptor Month. Raptors are beautiful, fascinating birds, and they deserve the recognition.
To be clear, we’re celebrating the birds of prey kind of raptors. These birds—which include eagles, hawks, and owls—hunt other vertebrates.
They’re different from velociraptors (which is often shortened to raptor). These are extinct dinosaurs. Except in Jurassic Park, where silly scientists brought them back to life. And of course, it all went wrong and those raptors terrorized the humans.
Now, apparently September was Velociraptor Awareness Month. The Red Cross Cascades Region blog has some good tips for making sure you’re prepared in case of a velociraptor attack. And the American Society for Velociraptor Attack Prevention offers ways to ensure your home is protected from attack.
(Please remember … velociraptors are extinct … for now)
But lets get back to the real, live raptors we’re celebrating in October.
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Raptors are, as mentioned, birds of prey. They hunt for other vertebrates, often mice, fish and other small animals, including other birds. Smaller raptors may also eat insects. Bigger birds can handle bigger prey.
And these birds do come in a wide variety of sizes.
The kestrel is the smallest. It weighs less than 1/2 pound. At the other end is the Bald Eagle. It can weigh as much as 15 pounds.
Most of these birds have 3 things in common:
Raptors’ eyes take up a large part of their heads. In some cases more than 50%. And they see very well with them, allowing them to see small prey from high up in the sky.
Their talons allow them to grab and hold onto their prey, even carry it away.
They use their beaks to tear off small pieces to eat.
The two types of raptor without strong feet and sharp talons are the vultures and condors. That’s because they don’t need them. These two birds eat carrion (dead animals).
Scroll down for some ideas on celebrating this unofficial holiday.
What better way to celebrate than by learning more about these amazing birds? Consider one of these books:
Are your kids interested in wildlife or birds? Introduce them to raptors with one of these books:
Adults and children alike might enjoy this Birds of Prey coloring book. Based on the reviews, many adults use the excellent and detailed drawings as patterns for various art projects.
Other ideas for kids:
And more ideas for you:
If you’d like to donate to the protection of and/or education about raptors and other wildlife, consider a donation or an adopt-an-animal program. You might like one of these:
As always, check out any charity before you donate. We can’t promise they use your donations in ways you approve of.
And finally, although it’s the wrong kind of raptor for this celebration, make your Halloween complete this year with a velociraptor costume for your dog!
Do you have any creative ideas for celebrating Raptor Month?