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Peregrine Falcon feasting on a Black-naped Oriole

on 28th November 2006

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

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

3 Responses

  1. 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. 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.

  3. 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.

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