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On Thu, 20 Feb 1997 15:57:47 -0800 Jonathon Woolf <jwoolf@erinet.com>
>Even hawks and other birds of prey usually kill
>with the beak.  When you think about it, putting a killing weapon on 
>foot makes very little sense (to me, at least). Feet have to be on the
>ground most of the time, don't they? <  

Yes, or used to perch in a tree or on a rock.  But some birds of prey
(e.g. peregrines) regularly kill with their feet by using the momentum of
their swooping dive, to knock their prey out of the air with a "fisted"
foot.  The impact is usually fatal.  Many birds of prey send a talon
right through the center of their prey's body just by clasping.  Their
beak just makes sure the job is done.  (I saw the remains of a kestrel
that had been attacked by a red-tail hawk, with a neat hole right through
its heart.  The kestrel had gone into a bird banding net after a warbler,
and got tangled.  The red-tail went in after the kestrel, and also got
tangled.  Warbler, red-tail were banded and released.  Kestrel was dead. 
This action had all happened in the span of about 10 minutes since the
last net check.)

Judy Molnar
Education Associate
Virginia Living Museum