Anyone who’s ever watched a falcon swoop down on its prey with pinpoint accuracy cannot help but be amazed by their agility and grace. A new study looking at the hunting tactics of these spectacular birds provides us with a first person viewpoint using tiny helmet cams.
The study not only resulted in some pretty awesome video footage, but also a greater understanding of what makes these predators such amazing hunters.
Researchers at Haverford College worked with falconers in Belgium, the UK and Netherlands to record their hunts with so-called “critter cams.” By painstakingly mapping the position of the birds during each frame of flight, they gleaned a sense of its tactics.
The results published in the Journal of Experimental Biology found that falcons quickly readjust their positioning to keep targets at the center of their field of vision. In this way, prey appears motionless in relation to the surrounding landscape. Needless to say, it’s still unbelievable.
Previous research on dragonflies and bats found similar uses of this type of attack strategy. “Every time the prey maneuvers, the predator has to readjust its position,” lead author Suzanne Amador Kane, an associate professor of physics at Haverford College, told LiveScience.com. “We saw falcons do a series of fixes to keep the prey at the same angle in the camera’s field of view.”