Amazing bird’s-eye view of how falcons hunt

by Matthew Cobb

This dramatic video of how falcons hunt just popped in my Tw*tter feed from the Journal of Experimental Biology (@J_Exp_Biol). I fear that crows were harmed in the making of this film.

The blurb below the video says:

Suzanne Amador Kane, working with falconers across the globe, has discovered that falcons pursue prey by keeping the image of the prey in the same place on their retina during the pursuit as they close in. This movie shows ground breaking footage capture by movie cameras mounted on hunting falcons filmed by Eddy De Mol and his colleagues Valerie Collet and Francois Lorrain.

You can read the original article from the Journal of Experimental Biology, free to all, here.

9 Comments

  1. gbjames
    Posted January 16, 2014 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    sub

  2. Hempenstein
    Posted January 16, 2014 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    Surprised to see a falcon taking a crow. Around here, what I frequently see is a group of crows harrying(sp?) a red-tailed hawk. Do crows do the same thing with falcons when in a group, or do they steer clear of falcons regardless?

    • Achrachno
      Posted January 16, 2014 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      Same here. Perhaps N American crows are more foul and obnoxious than their European relatives. That is, maybe falcons here don’t like eating crow any more than anyone else.

    • Posted January 16, 2014 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      I suppose the tide turns at times. At least some raptors take crows so crows will also harass the raptors.
      Crows also prey on baby birds. I have seen crows making off with bird chicks from a robin nest. We often see birds mobbing a crow, and that I suppose is for good reason.

      • gbjames
        Posted January 16, 2014 at 8:45 am | Permalink

        No doubt crows would eat baby falcons if given the opportunity.

  3. Posted January 16, 2014 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    “..pursue prey by keeping the image of the prey in the same place on their retina during the pursuit..”
    I wonder if that is make the best use of binocular vision. All the better to calculate the closing distance.

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted January 16, 2014 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      Since their eyes are quite close together, I’m guessing stereo depth perception doesn’t come into play until the last few seconds.

      Rather, keeping the prey motionless on the retina is how the falcon knows that it’s leading the prey by the correct amount, thus ensuring a collision. In other words, it wants to eliminate any lateral components of the prey’s relative motion in the falcon’s reference frame, and the way it does that is by finding the attack angle that keeps the prey from drifting around on the retina.

      That said, this video doesn’t provide much direct evidence for it, since the camera was mounted on the bird’s back, not on its head, and we can see the head twisting around in some sequences.

  4. chascpeterson
    Posted January 16, 2014 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    aw.
    Falcons are one-trick ponies, but crows are intelligent and have complex social and family lives.
    or in this case, were and had.

    • Diane G.
      Posted January 17, 2014 at 12:02 am | Permalink

      For that reason this was a little hard to watch; but still amazing.


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