Researchers at Haverford College, Pennsylvania literally got a bird’s eye view of how falcons hunt when they attached tiny cameras to the predatory birds in the USA and Europe. Researchers worked with 13 falconers on the project. By analyzing video taken during flight, scientists were able reconstruct and understand the birds’ hunting technique.
Falcons attack flying prey at a distance and keep their target centered in their field of view. University professional Suzanne Kane explained the strategy to Live Science: “This strategy of heading straight toward the prey at all times is easy to implement, but it involves following a very winding pathway and it turns out to be a very inefficient way of catching prey.”
By keeping their prey centered – and essentially appearing motionless – falcons are able to predict any course deviations of their intended victim thus conserving energy. This allows falcons to catch their prey faster than if they had actually tailed it. The process of heading off their prey in the least amount of time while masking their approach is called “motion camouflage.”
Previous studies have shown that bats and dragonflies use the same technique.
So how did the falcons that took part in the study like their head mounted cameras?
Eh, not too much.
“We had some birds who didn’t want to wear them, but overall most were unconcerned with the cameras and tolerated the equipment just fine,” Kane said.