Take That, You Pesky Airplane!

Adult female peregrine attacks remote-controlled model glider (photo by Steve Shinn)
Peregrine falcon attacks radio-controlled glider (photo courtesy Steve Shinn)

It looks like Photoshop, but it’s not.  The bird and the plane are actual size, frozen in time in Steve Shinn’s photograph.

The peregrine is a wild bird who nests on the seaside cliffs near Los Angeles, California.  She has nestlings on the cliff and won’t tolerate anything flying near them.  It doesn’t matter what it is.

The plane is a radio-controlled glider, guided by a human on the ground.  Model airplane enthusiasts love the wind above the cliffs for testing their equipment.  They have not thought that peregrine falcons could be a hazard.

Steve Shinn stops by the cliffs frequently during peregrine nesting season to capture awesome photos of their activities.  He was lucky to be there the day this female peregrine had had enough.

Annoyed by the glider invading her airspace, she flew out ahead of it, talons dangling, watching her chance.

Boom!  She grabbed it in mid-air and bit the “neck” to sever its spinal cord but it didn’t die quickly.

Peregrine grabs and bites the "neck" of a radio-controlled model glider (photo by Steve Shinn)
Peregrine falcon hijacks radio-controlled glider (photo courtesy Steve Shinn)

Steve writes, “Having grabbed this invader, she naturally wanted to chew off its head.  Fiberglass is a tough nut to crack even for a Peregrine.  … She has been reported to have ripped off the canopy of one plane and caused another to plunge into the ocean.”

You’d think the glider operators would learn.

“Take that, you pesky airplane!”

(photos by Steve Shinn.  Click here to see more of his peregrine photos.)

One thought on “Take That, You Pesky Airplane!

  1. I’m sure you have seen the peregrine cliff dweller in upper California flip four brown pelicans that didn’t take her warning cries seriously. This was followed by throwing a snake out of the nest. You have got to love these birds. Was a part of a series on Discovery but that clip now available on YouTube for those interested.

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