You’re not likely to see them at the bird feeder, but predatory birds, sometimes called raptors, are among the most breathtaking winged animals you’re likely to encounter in the wild.
Unlike many of their more delicate relatives, birds of prey are carnivorous and use their powerful talons to capture prey. Their exceptionally keen eyesight allows them to see small objects in detail, even from a great distance. As predators high on the food chain, raptors play an important role in maintaining the balance of nature.
Because they require vast tracts of land for successful hunting and nesting, human development is a large threat to the over 500 species of birds of prey. Loss of habitat means that surviving birds must hunt and build their nests closer to human populations where ATVs, pesticides, landfills and poaching post even greater threats.
To celebrate and help draw attention to these unsung kings of the sky, the U.S. Postal Service will issue a stunning set of three-ounce rate stamps by featuring bird portraits by illustrator Robert Giusti.
Appearing from the neck up will be the northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), osprey (Pandion haliaetus), and northern harrier (Circus cyaneus).
Preview the stamps below before they’re released on January 20, 2012:
Image Credit: Flickr – insecta62
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