Which Three Raptors Live on Every Continent but Antarctica?

Highly adaptable and capable of flying long distances, they are some of the most successful bird species in the world.

This audio story is brought to you by BirdNote, a partner of the National Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air daily on public radio stations nationwide.

This is BirdNote.

Take three raptors.

The Barn Owl. 

The Peregrine Falcon. 

And the Osprey. 

Three birds of prey, each with a specialized hunting prowess utterly distinct from the other, and never competitors. The Barn Owl hunts mostly small mammals, particularly rodents. The medium-sized Peregrine preys mostly on small birds in high-speed attacks. While the Osprey survives almost exclusively on fish it plucks from near the surface of the water, breeding and hunting along the shorelines it shares with many Peregrines.  

Each one of these three raptors is incredibly successful. They’re on every continent except Antarctica. They can fly great distances, including across large bodies of water – meaning almost no island is too remote for them to reach. And like many birds of prey, they all three mate for life.

Although it’s not visible very often, the Barn Owl has long been thought of as perhaps the single most widespread land bird in the world. 

But Ospreys and Peregrines have proven themselves equally adaptable. Three raptors that must rank among nature’s most successful bird species.

For BirdNote I’m Mary McCann. 



Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York.

Barn Owl [50147] recorded by G A Keller; Peregrine Falcon [136378] recorded by Michael J Andersen; Osprey [106651] recorded by Randolph S. Little

BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.

Written by Bob Sundstrom

Narrator: Mary McCann

Producer: John Kessler

Executive Producer: Dominic Black

© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org    December  2015/2018