Jul 24 2013
Some raptors have special techniques for finding food. This one has used trains and motorcycles.
Aplomado falcons (Falco femoralis) are native to grassland and marshland from Mexico to South America where they eat birds, insects and small vertebrates. Sometimes they hunt while soaring or from a perch but when hunting birds they prefer to fly fast through thickets to flush them from cover. This technique is similar to a Coopers hawk.
Mated pairs like to hunt cooperatively. The male makes a distinctive “chip” sound to call his mate to a hunt. Sometimes the female will even come off the nest to participate. The male corners the prey by hovering above the thicket. The female flies through and flushes it.
When his mate can’t come out to hunt, what’s a guy to do? Borrow a motorcycle.
Aplomados have figured out that our large, loud vehicles scare small birds into flight. According to Birds of North America online, one researcher reported an aplomado following a motorcycle to pick off small birds flushed from the side of the road. Another reported a falcon flying with a train and switching sides to check out the ditches.
These falcons were extirpated from the U.S. in the 1950’s and only recently made a comeback in New Mexico and south Texas, partly on their own and partly thanks to reintroduction programs.
When I travel southwest to find an aplomado I wonder … will it help to watch for motorcycles?
(photo from Shutterstock.com)