Peregrine Falcon feasting on a Black-naped Oriole

posted in: Feeding-vertebrates, Raptors | 4

Cheong Weng Chun was going through some of his old bird images when he came across a composite image of a Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) feasting on a Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis) (left). The images were taken on 7th March 2004 in Port Dickson when he was just beginning to take an interest in digiscoping birds. He shared the images with like-minded birders then and showed the composite images in the BESG’s e-loop a few days ago.

Through the courtesy of Weng Chun, we are presenting his images highlighting the stages of the falcon’s feast, first preparing its catch and then feasting on it…

Peregrine Falcon feeds exclusively on birds like doves, sparrows, waterfowls, feral pigeons and songbirds. It is fast and agile in the air, being the world’s swiftest bird, having the ability to reach a speed exceeding 300 km/h when pursuing a prey. It hunts birds in mid-air, first hitting the prey at great speed with its foot, then swooping back to catch it.

The bird has a conspicuous tomial tooth, a sharp triangular-shaped downward pointing projection found at the outer edge of the upper mandible near the curved part of the beak (see above). This sharp “tooth” is thought to serve mainly in the killing of prey by breaking the victim’s neck.

In the above image the prey was brought back to its favourite perch to be eaten. The dead bird was first decapitated and then carefully plucked of its feathers (below).

With the help of its tomial tooth and powerful bill, the falcon tore through the featherless prey and began its feast (below).

In about 30 minutes or so all the flesh had disappeared from the dead bird and the falcon began to pick at the bones (below). Soon even the bones were picked clean…

…leaving only a satiated falcon.

Input and images courtesy of Cheong Weng Chun

4 Responses

  1. Serene

    I notice that the falcon’s feet and mouth are bloody after the feast. Do raptors go to the water to wash up after their meals or they just slowly lick themselves clean?

  2. Allan Teo

    One thing very apparent is to note
    the LENGTH of the legs. It has to be long to strike the prey and to avoid
    colliding with it.

    To strike a prey at over
    250 KMH without breaking its
    legs is very interesting.
    Perhaps a scientist should
    scan the bone structure to see
    how come it is so light and so

    Allan Teo

  3. YC

    Anyone watching raptors to see whether they wash after a meal?

    The falcon strikes its prey on the wings, rather than the body. In this way the impact is less. And I assume it avoids breaking a leg.

  4. Shu

    Oh dear, that is really sad. 🙁 I have a pet black-naped oriole which cannot fly. Didn’t know they are food for other birds too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.