Racing Pigeons And Raptors

Pigeons (Columba livia) and the raptors who hunt them have evolved together for millions of years. The raptors’ successful hunts leave only the fastest, most maneuverable pigeons. Speedy, elusive pigeons mean only the most skillful raptors can survive.  Most of us never get to see this interaction so this dramatic video from Romania is a real treat.

In 9 minutes Porumbeiro shows how his racing pigeons work to elude two raptors: first a peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), then a northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis). 

The pigeons stay in a tight flock because raptors can’t pick out a victim in a moving ball of birds. The raptors try to separate one bird from the group by slicing through the flock. If it works, the raptor pursues the lone bird.

Who will win?

(video by pomumbeiro on YouTube)

1 thought on “Racing Pigeons And Raptors

  1. Good morning Kate.

    This is we’ve talked a couple times about the peregrine and one spring day a year and half ago you helped my son Charlie get his first look at the Cathedral of Learning birds after an appointment at Children’s Hospital.

    We were lucky enough to have a pair of merlin successfully nest in our neighborhood up here in DuBois in 2017. (I think that had started and we talked about it while watching your peregrines.) Since then I’ve been gathering data on the growing number of nests in the state with the goal of turning it over to the new Erie Bird Observatory when they are ready and am now working with the US Forest Service lab up in Irvine and and a group at IUP who will use the data for studies they are starting. We have 18 confirmed nests this past breeding season and over 45 in the state since one was first found in 2018.

    I’d like to share my info with you and get some info on your recent posting about 2 merlin seen on the Schenley Park golf course. Winter activity like that has been seen near similar nesting sites in the state. I got word of at least one confirmed site in Indiana County a few weeks ago which is currently the farthest south I or anyone I’m in contact with. Your area would be a likely next step.

    Please email back if you’re interested in sharing info.

    Thanks

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