Amazing falconcam footage reveals the physics of flying and hunting

Scientists have found that birds of prey like hawks and falcons zigzag through the air to create a form of motion camouflage when pursuing their prey

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The Independent Online

A new video has offered an insight into the strategy deployed by falcons as they swoop through the air and catch their prey, giving a rare glimpse into the world of airborne predators.

The incredible video was part of a study by scientists at Haverford College in Pennsylvania and falconers from all over the world. It involved fitting miniature cameras onto the birds’ backs and filming their flying patterns.

The footage was then analysed using predictive technology and existing data on pursuit behaviour in mammals and insects.   

The paper titled ‘Falcons pursue prey using visual motion cues: new perspectives from animal-born cameras’ found that falcons use cues to track and catch their flying prey.

The study also revealed that the birds use a form of motion camouflage by darting through the air in a zigzagging to help keep them out of sight.

The dizzying footage captured in Belgium in 2011 gives a literal bird’s eye view of a pursuit. The falcon can be seen using its wide field of vision to keep its eyes firmly fixed on its prey during the chase.  

The study was co-authored by Haverford College’s Associate Professor of Physics & Astronomy Suzanne Amador Kane and recent graduate Marjon Zamani. It been published in the current issue of The Journal of Experimental Biology.