What is a raptor?

Word count: 237 words

Reading time: about 1 minute

Easter offers a four-day long weekend in Canada. That’s why, on Monday, my husband and I could be found taking a 90-minute walk along the beaches of Boundary Bay. This spectacular area, only a 30-minute drive from where we live, offers water, wide open spaces and striking views of the mountains that surround Vancouver.

My husband’s love of places like Boundary Bay centres on watching birds while mine relates to walking and thinking so I try not to get too irritated when he pulls out his binoculars and slows us down. That said, at one point I was the one who stopped us to look at some poster boards put up by the municipality.

And one of these boards gave me my word of the week: raptor. I’d been around my husband long enough to know already that a raptor is a bird of prey (think: eagles, hawks, owls). But what I didn’t know was the origin of the word. “Raptor means ‘thief’ in Latin,” said the board. Even my bird-smart husband didn’t know this!

When I returned home, I checked my etymological dictionary which disagreed only slightly. It said that ornithological use dates back to 1873 and it comes from the Latin word raptor meaning “raviser or abductor.”

But I guess a kidnapper (of mice or small mammals) can also be seen as a thief. Mostly, however, I was interested to know the precise meaning of a word I’d been hearing for decades.

Scroll to Top