The Image Of The Week is a beautiful Peregrine Falcon, sitting atop a post and scanning for breakfast.
This species is deemed the fastest animal on the planet. Preferring to attack from above, the eyesight of this raven-sized raptor is phenomenal. Cruising at altitudes around 3,500 feet they target and instinctively perform the calculations required to hit a sparrow in flight. The high altitude contributes to their dive speed. Peregrine Falcons have achieved confirmed in-flight speeds in excess of 300 KPH (186 MPH) when diving.
Their diving attack is called a ‘stoop’. Surprisingly, unlike most raptors their razor sharp talons are not used. Peregrines kill prey by impact, with talons clenched like a fist, normally catching the victim by surprise and scooping the already dead animal out of the air as it falls. Prey not killed on impact may fall to the ground but is stunned or too injured from the blow to defend themselves, and that is when the talons may be brought into play.
Attack by Peregrine Falcon is one of the most efficient and coincidentally painless ways to die in the world of nature. Most prey never sees the threat circling far above them. They are just suddenly dead. The Peregrine Falcon is a formidable opponent, one that doesn’t often need to fight.
In level flight Peregrines are marginally less maneuverable but they can still clock up 95 KPH (60 MPH) or more, though their stooping attack is not available which gives prey a fighting chance. This method of interaction is more commonly used for defense, though it is not a fight I would choose to engage in.
Peregrine Falcons are fiercely protective of their nest and their ground defense game can see off much larger birds looking for eggs for breakfast. Extremely good all-rounders, these birds of prey are rightly considered kings of the air by falconers and have been used for hunting throughout history going back as far as 2000 B.C.