Accipitriformes is an order of birds consisting of the diurnal birds of prey, the hawks, eagles, and their allies.
Accipitriforme birds consist of 74 genera and 266 species within four families. They bear a superficial appearance to each other, i.e. sharp hooked beaks, strong clawed feet, robust bodies and long, usually broad wings. The color of the plumage can be white, gray, brown, black, or a combination of several of these colors. Males are usually smaller than females in size and weight.
- Accipitridae: hawks, eagles, kites, Old World vultures
- Cathartidae: New World vultures, condors
- Pandionidae: osprey
- Sagittariidae: secretary bird
Previously, families of this order - including falcons - were placed within the order Falconiformes. Recent studies based on DNA analysis, however, have led ornithologists conclude that falcons are more closely related to parrots and passerine birds than they are to hawks and eagles, resulting in a split away from the Accipitriformes, and the transferring of the name Falconiformes exclusively to falcons and caracaras. Even then, Falconiformes is still used for the group as a whole; one study indicated the monophyly is still uncertain, and retains the original name - and falcons - within the order.
The family Cathartidae has sometimes been placed within the order Ciconiiformes, due to observations that these birds are related to storks, and indicated by the Sibley-Ahlquist (1990, 1993) classification based on DNA hybridization. This approach has never been unanimous among ornithologists, and further genetic studies would support that opinion. Rather than a family within either Accipitriformes or Ciconiiformes, a separate order, Cathartiformes, is sometimes used.