The surprisingly stealthy hunting strategy of the peregrine falcon

July 21, 2014, 1 p.m.
peregrine falcon

Photo: Arvind Agrawal/MNN Flickr Group

Speed and stealth combine for this top raptor

We know the peregrine falcon is one of the fastest birds in the sky, but relying on sheer speed alone isn’t enough to capture prey. A falcon has to be smart too, and peregrines have come up with a winning strategy. Earlier this year, a study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology revealed new details into how peregrine falcons hunt down their prey.  

The Guardian reports, “Rather than head straight for their target, the falcons kept their quarry in a fixed position to one side, allowing them to close in on the prey in the stealthiest way possible. The strategy exploits an effect called motion camouflage, where the predator does not seem to be moving from the point of view of the prey. Done well, the only clue that the bird is approaching is the gradual increase in its size.”

With this strategy, a falcon won’t seem to be zeroing in on its target, which maintains a certain element of surprise as they come in with lightening speed for the kill.



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Jaymi Heimbuch is a writer and photographer at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.