Jun 11 2008
After juvenile peregrines have been flying for about a week, they’re ready to learn to hunt. It may surprise you that the first step in the process is mid-air food exchange.
I imagine the lecture would sound like this – if their father could talk.
“Here’s how it’s done, kids. Your mother and I will demonstrate. Watch carefully.
“Boys, when you bring home prey call to your mate and she’ll come out to receive it. Watch how she moves and get ready for the prey exchange. You’ll be expected to transfer the prey from your feet to your beak and hold it out for her to grab.
“Girls, as you approach flip upside down and reach for the prey with your talons. Your mate will drop it right into your grasp. Be careful, though. This maneuver takes skill.
“Now, kids, we’re going to practice.
“Next time I come in with prey I’m not going to deliver it to your perch. I expect you to come out and get it. I’ll make this a little easier on you by not holding it in my beak. I’ll just lower my talons and hold it out. If you miss on the exchange your meal is going to fall so you better be ready to catch it.
“Are you all ready? Good. You’re going to have to work for it. No more free lunch.”
Thanks to Chad and Chris Saladin for permission to use their photograph of Angus and Stryker exchanging prey in Toledo, Ohio.