do falcons kill other birds

Looking for ID Help?

Our free app offers quick ID help with global coverage.

Or Browse Bird Guide by Family or Shape

Need Bird ID Help? Try Merlin

Raptor Hunting: A stooping Peregrine Falcon killing another bird is one of the most amazing spectacles in the world of birds. With its wings partially closed, the falcon dives sharply below, reaching speeds of over 150 miles per hour. For a long time, it was believed that raptors such as falcons struck with their feet clenched like a fist. However, high-speed cinematographic studies have demonstrated that they use all four toes fully extended to strike their prey from above. The falcons’ talons frequently tear the Peregrines victim, releasing a shower of feathers. The prey is usually picked up off the ground afterwards, but sometimes the falcon will bend down once more and catch the falling bird before it hits the ground. In addition to diving past their prey and then lunging up from below to snatch it from behind and below, eagles can also hunt by using their talons to simply capture small birds from above. Occasionally, they will fly low over the ground, akin to a harrier, in an effort to attract game birds. Based on location, season, and even gender, peregrine hunting success can differ significantly, as Cornell ornithologist Tom Cade demonstrated with a fascinating comparison. In one season, a breeding male in the eastern United States who nearly solely hunted Blue Jays succeeded in capturing 93% of his prey. Only 31% of the time was an Australian breeding female successful, but the majority of the birds she caught were coots, which were more than five times heavier than blue jays. After calculating the energy costs and benefits of both hunting strategies and taking into account that the female likely weighed half as much as the male, Cade came to the conclusion that the female needed only 43 kcal to catch 1,000 kcal of prey to reach the eyrie, whereas the male needed 49 kcal (or what dieters typically just call a “calorie”). Although the female is more productive, her time for hunting is restricted due to her responsibilities as a nest guard. The male that was comparatively less efficient likely provided more food for the young because he had more time to hunt. Raptors collectively display an astounding diversity of hunting strategies. Most are diurnal hunters, with the exception of owls, which are occasionally classified as raptors. However, some, like the European Hobby, a smaller relative of the Peregrine, will pounce on mice at night. Some hunt at a high speed, much like the Peregrine For instance, the Sharp-shinned Hawk frequently soars through comparatively dense forest, deftly navigating and frequently snatching passerines directly from their perches. While hunting, some birds, such as American Kestrels, Black-shouldered Kites, and the young of the highly successful Red-tailed Hawk, frequently hover before diving sharply down on their prey. Others, such as mature Red-tails, soar while keeping an eye out for prey on the ground. However, the majority of raptors’ hunting likely occurs from perches with a commanding view, allowing the bird to use its telescope-like vision to scan the surrounding terrain and glide quickly to gather in its prey. It’s interesting to note that an American Kestrel’s preference for hovering over perch-hunting largely depends on the strength of the breeze. Using a variety of techniques, raptors typically kill their prey by driving their talons into their bodies; if necessary, they will also use their hooked bill to deliver a coup de grace. Falcons are an exception to this rule; they typically kill by biting into the necks of victims who are not killed in midair. (Owls also bite the necks of their prey. (An Inca Dove is killed by a Merlin stooping down on it and slashing its open feet.) Of course, some predatory birds—apart from falcons—use highly specialized hunting methods. Ospreys perched or hovering dive into the water to catch live fish; Snail and Hook-billed Kites circle like harriers, hunting their less-than-athletic prey—snails. SEE: Hawk-Eyed; Owls’ Nighttime Hunting Techniques; Raptors’ Size and Gender Copyright ® 1988 by Paul R. Ehrlich, David S. Dobkin, and Darryl Wheye.


Will falcons eat other birds?

Peregrine falcons feed on a wide variety of prey species but most often can be seen eating other birds. Prey includes pigeons, doves, waterfowl and songbirds of which they capture mid-flight. They will also eat small mammals including bats and rodents.

Are falcons aggressive birds?

Prairie Falcon pairs are notoriously aggressive in defending their nest sites—against Great Horned Owls, eagles, hawks, and even other Prairie Falcons, sometimes killing fledglings that stray into the wrong territory.

What birds do falcons hunt?

Their typical prey items include shorebirds, ducks, grebes, gulls, pigeons, and songbirds. Peregrine falcons also eat bats, and they occasionally steal prey—including fish and rodents—from other raptors. Falcons nest on cliffs up to 1,300 feet high and sometimes higher.

Can falcons kill crows?

However, falcons are the fastest animals ever. With a dive speed of 200 mph, all the falcon needs to do is fly high enough so it can just dive bomb the crow. If the crow has backup nearby: Crows win 8–9/10 times.