SX50: playing "chicken" with a Peregrine falcon

Started Jun 17, 2013 | Discussions thread
OP Don_Campbell Senior Member • Posts: 2,457
Re: SX50: playing "chicken" with a Peregrine falcon

John Marsh wrote:

Nice sequence Don; thanks for posting.


I have several times seen similar interactions between grey squirrels and Coopers Hawks which perch in trees or a fence near our backyard bird feeders. The squirrels will seemingly taunt the hawks, getting to within less than three feet away and chattering at them incessantly. Seems suicidal but my guess is that both parties "know" that the hawk has about zero chance of picking off the squirrel from a standing start. Great fun to watch in any case.

So far my experience watching the falcons and also the eagles at this site is that they hunt when they want and they go for the prey they prefer and the rest of the time (hours and hours) they hang out and wait. They do defend the nest vigorously when large intruders come close but mostly they stand around until they are "moved" to hunt. Although they might take a small mammal if really hungry, there are a huge number of birds to choose among just over the ridge where their nest is. That supermarket is close, well-stocked, the prey are well understood and they are easy to carry back. I've seen 5 "processing" sites while watching and they're all littered with feathers until the next breeze takes them away. The bird carcasses are prepped for sharing in a few minutes and that may not be as easy with a squirrel.

I have yet to convince myself about the details of the vocal communication that goes on between the mating pair, but it is clear that when food it about to be dropped off at the nest or has recently been dropped off there is a lot of clucking and crying back and forth for 20-30 minutes.

Then, for long periods of inactivity the birds stand around and then fly to another standing around place and stand around some more--silently.

It would be tedious if they were not such beautiful creatures with such astonishingly wonderful flying style. Seeing them chase off buzzards that are 3x their size is really a treat as is seeing them dive after a gull. I have yet to see a kill but I've had one hit a gull within 10 feet or so of me that caused the gull to drop a piece of wood it was carrying (don't ask me why--it made no sense). The gull flew off and the the falcon went back to work over the ridge.


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