Jan. 15 - When hunting, falcons rarely fly straight at their prey, as the prey will usually take evasive action and escape. Instead, according to a new study in The Journal of Experimental Biology, the raptor manoeuvres to keep the prey's image central in its line of sight much like a fighter pilot, to head the target off as quickly as possible. Ben Gruber reports.
This crow is flying for its life... as a pair falcons home in for the kill. The chase was captured on video by a tiny camera mounted on the head of one of the falcons. Within seconds the crow is caught in midair and dragged to the ground. The falcon cam video is part of research project conducted by Suzanne Amador Kane. She wanted to study the physics behind how these predators hunt so efficiently. She enlisted the help of falconers around the world who were willing to attach tiny head and back-mounted cameras to their birds as they hunted. Amador Kane then studied the videos to search for flight strategies the falcons may have used during their hunts. What she found is that in most cases, falcons use a technique similar to that of fighter pilots. Rather than attacking in a straight line, the birds adapt their flight pattern to keep their target at the centre of their sightline, before grabbing it in mid-air. Amador Kane says it's an attack strategy that gives potential prey very little chance, as the falcon goes in for the kill.