Sky Hunters

Discovering Birds of Prey

This flexible online course offers a broad introduction to the thrilling world of raptors.
Certificate course


8 weeks

Weekly study

2 hours

Study mode




Course fee


Why take this course?

Sky Hunters: Discovering Birds of Prey offers a broad introduction to the thrilling world of raptors.

Join us as we explore the anatomy and physiology of birds of prey, and see how every aspect of their design is geared towards being formidable hunters.

We will also gain insights into raptor behaviour patterns in the wild, follow their life cycles from birth to death, and study the array of specialised hunting techniques they have honed to suit specific habitats and prey species.

As we broaden our perspective to look at environmental change, we also explore the role of birds of prey within their ecosystems.

Importantly, we will examine current threats to endangered raptor species, look at the laws that are in place to protect them, and debate the key conservation issues that affect the survival of birds of prey worldwide.

What will you learn?

When you have completed this course you should be able to:

  • Describe essential aspects of raptor anatomy and biology;
  • Discuss key elements of raptor behaviour, including reproduction, rearing young, hunting techniques and diet;
  • Investigate the ecological contexts, habitats and environments in which a range of different species live;
  • Analyse current threats to the survival of species that are at risk;
  • Explore a range of ongoing conservation initiatives working to protect birds of prey, both locally and globally;
  • Develop a personal action plan to help protect raptors and support conservation.

Course syllabus

In our first module, we begin with a broad introduction to raptor classification and nomenclature before looking in more detail at their unique physiology. We examine their skeletal structure, biological systems, and the specialised anatomy that makes birds of prey such efficient hunters.

Module 2 is all about living, hunting and eating as we take a closer look at the lives and behaviours of raptors. We explore their lifecycles, their diet and nutritional needs, and their unique digestive systems. We’ll also look at the varied but equally deadly hunting techniques adopted by different raptor species.

Where do birds of prey live, and what are the environmental needs of different species? In Module 3 we examine a range of different raptor habitats, from chilly tundra to parched desert. We explore the role of field ecology in the study of raptor populations. How are habitats changing, and what are the implications for birds of prey?

In Module 4 we investigate issues of raptor conservation. We will identify some of the species that are most severely threatened, and examine the factors that have led to their high-risk status. We will take hope from the examples set by active and successful conservation projects, and explore ways in which we can all contribute to the survival of vulnerable raptor populations.

Meet your instructor

Jennifer Anderson FLS FZS

Jennifer Anderson has many years of experience working with wildlife, with particular expertise in birds of prey. She is passionate about wildlife conservation, and leads a number of initiatives to raise awareness about the importance of looking after our natural world.

Jennifer is a Fellow of the Linnean Society and a Fellow of the Zoological Society of London.


This course is ideal for anyone who would like to learn more about birds of prey, whether your goal is professional development or you simply want to pursue a general interest in wildlife. Because the course focuses on environmental, habitat and conservation aspects, it complements a wider range of studies in the fields of agriculture, climate change and ecology.

From the day you enrol on the course you will have access to it for six months. There are four modules, and each module consists of three leasons. One new module will open for you each week for the first four weeks, and then you can progress as fast or as slowly as you like for the rest of your enrolment period. If you find you need longer than six months to complete, you’re always welcome to ask us about an extension. In reality, most students complete the course within 8 to 10 weeks, but you can set your own pace. The course is designed to be flexible.

It’s completely up to you how much study time you put in. We recommend trying to carve out at least 2 hours per week if you can. Some students have more time to dedicate to a course than others, and that’s ok – it’s not a competition. If you feel like you’re struggling to maintain your pace, you can always talk to your course instructor or one of our Learning Support Officers if you’d like any advice about study skills or time management. We’re here to help.

Don’t worry! Online learning learning is still a new experience for many people (even experienced scholars!), and it’s completely ok if you feel a bit unsure about it. Firstly, when you sign up for any of our courses you get free access to an additional course called Preparing for Online Learning. This is a gentle (and completely optional) guide to getting the most out of studying online, and it contains some really useful tips about how to make it work best for you. Plus, our Learning Support Officers are here to help you with any technical questions or concerns you may have, so never hesitate to reach out for support.

This course is intended to offer an introduction to the subject. It is designed with beginners in mind, so you don’t need to have any prior knowedge or experience to participate. If you do have some relevant background knowledge, that’s great too. There will be many opportunites to dive deeper into particular topics that interest you, and you can build upon what you’ve previously learned.

No. Everything you need to succesfully complete the course will be provided to you and is included in the course fee. If you would particularly like to invest in some books of your own, your course instructor will be pleased to offer recommendations for key texts.

To access the course platform and materials, you will need a computer with an internet connection and a web browser. This could a desktop machine, a laptop or mobile device. Our platforms should work well on most operating systems. Please get in touch if you have any questions or concerns about technology, and we’ll do our best to assist.

Some of our more vocational courses may be formally accredited by an external professional body. This depends on the subject of study, and on how closely the criteria for a particular form of accreditation aligns with the aims and outcomes of a specific programmme we offer. If a course is externally accredited, this will be clearly indicated on the course information page. If a course is primarily designed for personal enrichment, it may not carry formal accreditation. If in doubt, please ask us and we’ll be happy to signpost you towards opportunities that meet your learning requirements.

Yes. When you successfully complete any of our courses, your achievement will be recognised in the form of a Certificate of Completion at the appropriate level (see example below). We’ll also provide you with an academic transcript with full details of each module you studied and each assessment you completed.

The Sky Hunters course offers a foundation that could be a first step towards a range of wildlife or conservation-related careers. These could  include jobs that involve working directly with animals and birds in zoos, wildlife parks or animal rehabilitation centres. There’s also a wide range of research-related roles in areas such as field ecology, animal behavioural studies and ecological consultancy. This course may help you to consider and clarify your longer-term career goals, and to develop a personal plan for gaining relevant fieldwork experience.

Sky Hunters

Discovering Birds of Prey

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