In one of the most common of the several ways in which the raptors are classified, the orderAccipitriformes includes most of the diurnal birds of prey: hawks, eagles, vultures, and many others: about 225 species in all. It is not used in classification schemes which regard the Falconidae (falcons and caracas) as part of the same group as the Accipitridae (hawks, eagles and allies). Where the diurnal raptors are regarded as a single order, that order becomes known as Falconiformes and includes about 280 species. Where the falcons and their allies are judged sufficiently distinct to be regarded as an independent order, Falconiformes includes only the 60-odd Falconidae species, and the remaining families become part of Accipitriformes.
The position of the Accipitridae is not in question. However, some authorities place the New World vultures in Ciconiiformes on the grounds that DNA evidence indicates that they are more closely related to the storks than to the Accipitridae. The Osprey shows a number of similarities to the Accipitridae and is often regarded as a member of that family. Alternatively, because it also shows a number of clear differences, it is placed in its own family, Pandionidae.
Some species, like the Accipitriformes, kill their victim by ripping its throat; others, such as the Falconidii, kill it by breaking its spinal column.
While eagles and condors are considered by many peoples as symbols of pride and nobility, other Accipitriformes and Falconiformes, as vultures, are perceived negatively and unjustly persecuted, since they are believed to be fierce, bloodthirsty and even filthy.
Accipitriformes and Falconiformes are exhibited in display units 50, 51 and 52, where all the European species are represented.
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