Browse content similar to Birds of Prey. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
This is...Deadly 360 -
the show that pits three of the world's deadliest predators
against their prey.
Examining both their hunting strategies...
and their escape tactics...
from every angle.
By delving beneath fur and feathers, we find out why a hunt succeeds...
..and why they sometimes fail.
One thing's certain...
prey animals are anything but sitting ducks.
Their defensive strategies keep them alive...
..and push predators to the limits.
Prepare for Deadly 360.
This is Deadly 360 mission control...
where all of today's action and analysis takes place.
From here we have access to some of the most enthralling hunts
ever been caught on camera. I've recreated three of the most exciting
and analysed them from a variety of angles
and perspectives in true 360 degree style.
The predators we're looking at have to find and catch food
or they just won't make it.
In the wild world simply managing to survive
is the greatest challenge of all. I present to you...
the birds of prey.
In today's deadly line-up, we check out the world's fastest animal, the peregrine falcon.
A super speedster who's armed and dangerous. We also meet the osprey...
an extreme fishing expert from Canada who's not afraid to get his feet wet.
And in open wildernesses of Scotland, the golden eagle uses super-powered eyesight to track down their prey.
Three birds of prey, three very different hunting strategies, but all deadly.
They look invincible, but there is a continual arms race going on in nature
which ensures that prey animals are always evolving spectacular ways of taking care of themselves.
Today's line-up of defenders includes the hare, an agile sprinter with an incredible turn of speed.
And this aquatic wonder, the flounder...
a true master of disguise with lightning reactions to match.
And in an urban metropolis, we investigate the pigeon's aeronautical
tactics which have to be seen to be believed.
Three prey, three very different escape strategies to evade even the most persistent of killers.
So I've introduced you to all of our contenders.
Now it's time to meet our first deadly duo going head-to-head.
So we have a very strong start with the aerial equivalent of a cheetah -
it's a high-velocity hunter. This is the peregrine falcon.
Up against it is this.
It's a pigeon.
But which animal has the edge in the race for life?
It's time to go Deadly 360.
We join the action just before the critical moment of impact.
This is the peregrine at full speed...
dropping out of the sky at nearly 200 miles an hour.
The pigeon is flying at about 60 miles an hour so if speed alone
were the key to this hunt, the odds are in the peregrine's favour.
And check out those talons... most definitely armed and dangerous.
Looking at this footage, you'd probably think the pigeon doesn't stand a chance
and if this was the whole story then it wouldn't,
but things in nature are rarely as simple as this.
There is a far more complex story going on here, but to fully
appreciate it we are going to have to go back to the start of the hunt and break it down piece by piece.
Right, the first thing is to show you is where this all happened.
Pigeons and peregrines are found all over the world, but this particular hunt happened in the UK.
And this is where this peregrine is living. A modern urban city.
A peregrine's natural habitat is something like this, somewhere wild,
rugged with cliff faces, perhaps at the coast.
So it might seem strange that a bird of prey would choose to live in a busy metropolis but think about it...
There are tall buildings with many nooks and crannies...
ideal for a family and, with hungry chicks to feed,
these cliff-like tower blocks offer a view of your hunting ground.
And, where there's city life, the peregrine's food is plentiful.
pigeons flock to city centres because there's a ready supply of food and we're all too willing to supply it.
So, that's the scene set.
Let's have a look at some of our predator's attributes.
OK, let's get a look at those stiletto sharp talons,
they are driven by really powerful tendons and muscles which means once they have pierced into the prey,
they lock in place which means there is genuinely no chance of escape.
Next, the beak...
This is a serious precision tool, it's used for dismembering -
tearing apart its prey - though obviously it has to pluck it first.
So add to that the peregrine's astounding eyesight and it makes for a terrifying predator.
But let's find out about the pigeon's defences.
Well, no sharp beak or claws for them but they're not trying to kill
the peregrine, they're just trying to escape.
What they have got is excellent hearing.
OK, pigeons can hear sounds at much lower frequencies than we can.
As a peregrine stoops the wind rushes through its feathers creating exactly
the kind of low frequency sound that pigeons are tuned to listen out for.
Next up is eyesight. Pigeons have fantastic eyesight
and the eyes are situated at the side of the head
which is usual for a prey animal because this means
they can forage for food at the same time as looking out for predators.
Right, back to the hunt.
And the peregrine has spotted its target.
Not surprising given its eyesight.
Huge eyes take up half of its skull and have the potential to see prey from two miles away.
So here's how it works.
We have just one focal point in our eyes but falcons have two, one is for
regular binocular vision but the other one can be used to bring distant objects into sharp focus.
All it needs to do is just tilt its head slightly
and it brings that particular super sense right into focus.
With a potential meal in its sight, the peregrine climbs to around half a mile above the city.
This is a bird which catches its prey in midair -
it can't pin it onto the ground like other birds of prey - and to do that it needs speed.
The higher it climbs, the further it can fall, and that's where its speed comes from.
The hope is, that despite the pigeons excellent hearing,
the peregrine's speedy approach means the pigeon
won't be able to react to it. Here it goes...
This is called the stoop and it's the reason why the peregrines can reach speeds of 200 miles an hour.
By folding its wings right back,
it effectively torpedoes its way towards the pigeon.
They really are quite something, perhaps the closest that human ingenuity has come to creating
the flight of the peregrine is with the invention of the jet engine.
So, I decided to give it a try myself by going up in a fighter plane.
Have a look at this. Here we go!
Oh, my goodness!
I think we pulled about 5G there... in that upward pull.
And, for the peregrine, that would all be totally effortless.
That's part of its everyday life.
But, for me, I can just feel my whole body weight being pulled back into the plane
and the force of gravity pulling on me.
This is a peregrine in the flesh and the feathers
and I think they are even more impressive than any jet fighter.
When I was in that plane we got up to G-forces of about 5G and I nearly lost my lunch.
Well, the peregrine can do 25G pulling out of a stoop with no problem whatsoever.
And look at the size of her, she is not absolutely massive but she is built for speed, look at
those wings, long thin pointed ended, whippy great for getting up a pace really, really quickly.
And the eyes are also really distinctive, you can see there that third eyelid,
the nictitating membrane just moving across the eye,
that works almost like goggles to make sure it
keeps dust and dirt out of the eyes as they are flying at great speeds.
She is so attentive and I think she has spotted something
she might want to fly off and find.
So, I think I am just going to let you see a peregrine taking off, what do you reckon?
Yes, not bad, now it's time to get back to the hunt.
And with the peregrine freefalling in midair we reveal another incredible adaptation.
And it's all to do with its nostrils.
As a peregrine dives at nearly 200mph the wind rushes into its nostrils at the same speed.
Without these cone shaped baffles which divert the spread of air it could easily put pressure
on its brain and its lungs causing it to pass out.
Meanwhile, the pigeons acute hearing has alerted it to the peregrine and it's making a hasty retreat.
If the peregrine doesn't make its kill at the end of the stoop attack, the hunt becomes a level race.
This is where the pigeon has the upper edge.
Pigeons might not look impressive on the ground,
in fact, they can look a little bit comical, but that is certainly not the case when they are up in the air.
In straight, flat-out level flight, they would easily outpace
our peregrine and they have one other thing on their side, that is stamina,
endurance, the ability to fly for hours without tiring. So, how do they manage that?
Pigeons are much underestimated and underrated birds. They're often thought of as city centre pests.
I think that's a massive mistake. Let's have a closer look...
That huge puffed out breast, it might make them look a bit silly when they are walking around on the ground,
but underneath the breast feathers is a massive heart and lungs. Proportionally they're four times
larger than you would find on a human being. What that does is drive oxygenated blood around the body
and to the flight muscles that drive the wings.
That means that a pigeon can fly as much as 500 miles in a day
at an average of 60mph. That's certainly far more than our peregrine can manage.
This is the crucial moment of the hunt. The peregrine has selected
its target and it's plummeting towards it at speed...
It doesn't look like the pigeon has noticed him...
Right, the talons are spread and...
No! He missed! Hang on a second, let's take a closer look at that.
Right, now just at the moment of impact the pigeon stopped dead
and banked away to the side.
The peregrine wasn't able to stop in time and has done a complete flyby.
The pigeon either saw or heard it coming and took evasive action
and now our peregrine is going to have to do the same.
That was a seriously close call.
So the peregrine might be the fastest bird that has ever lived but it has
a very daring, even risky, hunting strategy and actually only an average of one in five hunts
will be successful, so, really, the odds are in favour of the pigeon.
So the peregrine may have unmatchable speed, keen eyesight and tearing talons...
But match those against the pigeon's own eyesight, incredible hearing
and aeronautical tactics and I think you'll agree, the pigeon is not to be underestimated.
Now onto our next pair of hunters locked in a battle for survival.
This is the golden eagle. At four and a half times heavier
than the peregrine falcon, he's a serious flying heavyweight.
And up against it is this - the fast sprinting hare.
But which has the edge in the race for life?
It's time to go Deadly 360.
Once again, we witness the final stages of the hunt...
the golden eagle exhibiting deadly grace as it lines up for a collision course with its quarry, the hare.
Running on land never appears quite as graceful but don't be under any
illusions at just how well adapted the hare is in this situation.
Whoa, that hare is history.
Actually, I am not going to tell you what happened yet.
First of all, let's rewind to the beginning of that hunt and find out how this whole thing got started.
This battle again takes place in the UK but this time we head to Scotland, the Highlands to be precise.
And this habitat couldn't be more different to the peregrine's city backdrop.
No tall buildings here, just vast open wilderness.
Perfect for a bird that spends most of its time in the air scouring the landscape.
There is prey down there, concealed amongst the clumps of heather -
you've just got to be able to spot it and golden eagle is an expert at doing just that.
This is a seriously eagle-eyed bird, it is believed their eyesight could be eight times
more effective than ours and if a hare moves, it can be spotted from as much as two miles away.
Add to that these curved kitchen knife talons and this is a seriously scary bird.
So, the hare, is it just a defenceless little bunny?
Well, no. As you can see, they have the ability to run at blistering pace.
When they put the pedal down, they can really motor.
And they also have the ability to change pace and change direction
and bob and weave and this is easily enough to put a golden eagle off its stride.
Right, back to the hunt.
And the first thing the golden eagle does is take to the air.
It's unlikely he's actually spotted anything at this stage, but he needs to up high in order
to begin surveillance of the area with those super powered eyes.
Soaring around like this doesn't use up as much energy as you might think. The secret is in the wings.
With those wings and flight feathers fully outstretched,
it has a huge surface area which generates an enormous amount of lift.
You can see it flapping its wings, but it won't need to do that often.
It will just use rising warm air currents to drive itself airborne.
The tail is used for balance but also for micro adjustments in its steering as well. It can be spread
really broad and wide which gives it more surface area or drawn in
very close and streamlined when it's about to dive towards its prey.
That can be as much as a hundred miles an hour.
Obviously a false alarm that time. We'll just let him reset and join him again shortly.
So this is a golden eagle, one of the largest and the most impressive birds of prey found in the whole world
and the first thing you will notice is just the sheer scale of her.
She is enormous, the wingspan is absolutely colossal, look at that.
A fully-grown female golden eagle can have a wingspan of over two metres and sometimes when they are flying,
they pretty much seem to block out the sun,
but it's remarkably light and there is a real reason for that.
A golden eagle's skeleton is only about 5% of its body weight.
For a mammal like me it's 20% of our body weight and the bones have a very different structure to our own.
If you look at them close up, they are honeycomb on the inside
rather than solid like ours are. In fact the entire skeleton
only weighs about 225g which is about the same as a packet of biscuits, absolutely staggering.
Now, it's back to the hunt...
And with the eagle still scouring the landscape
it gives us a chance to check out the hare's defensive strategy.
Hares don't dig burrows like rabbits do,
so they don't have the option to just disappear underground when they see a threat.
Instead what they can do is just sit very, very still and their camouflaged coat
could allow them to stay unnoticed. After all, the eagle's eyesight is very much based around movement.
So, that's option number one and not a bad one, particularly in thick heather like this,
but, if you get spotted, that obviously isn't going to work, so the next option is to leg it.
Hares have got unbelievable pace and a very, very different kind of stride to a rabbit.
They're not hopping, they are pretty much leaping at two metres with every single bound.
That's four times their own body length,
which is kind of like me bounding the length of a truck with every single stride.
In full-out pace, the golden eagle is quicker,
so what it has to do is, at the very last moment,
change speed, change direction,
and just hope that the eagle does a flyby.
Hares can actually be pretty feisty.
In the spring you see them boxing with each other and they actually
throw a pretty mean punch, but not enough to put off a golden eagle.
If they're going to escape, they're going to have to run.
Now, all the power for the running is really coming from the rear limbs.
About 25% of the muscle mass is here in the back legs.
Let's get a look at their gait. You can see they spend most of their time in the air
and the legs are crossing over, more like you would expect from a cheetah or a greyhound, really.
They really are incredible fast. They can get up to 40mph
which is twice the speed of an Olympic sprinter.
Right, we're in the final stages of the hunt now.
And eagle's eyesight has led it to a hare in the grass.
The hare has decided to sit it out.
First, the eagle locks on to a shape.
Next, it twists over to line itself up for the kill.
Distance is judged with extraordinary precision. It's still waiting.
By sinking low into the grass it's now out of the eagle's sight.
Now, it's sneaking up the hill.
The eagle has such a strong mental image,
that if the hare moves very slightly,
the eagle might miss it.
OK, the light's beginning to drop at the end of the day,
so the eagle's eyesight will be rendered useless.
It has to make its kill now, or it's just not going to happen.
This time, the hare is on the run.
OK, it's turning in again, building up some speed, rocketing down towards the hare.
The talons come into position...
This is the crucial moment. It's going to stab with those talons.
It's all over.
The golden eagle is one of the most powerful and intimidating birds of prey in the world.
They are capable of taking on prey as large as a deer
or an antelope, but, just like the peregrine falcon, only one in five hunts is going to end in success.
So the hare put up a pretty good fight, cunning camouflage,
an impressive turn of speed and dancing manoeuvrability.
But the golden eagle's eyesight, precision flying
and lethal talons secured it an impressive victory in the end.
And this is our last deadly duo locked in a battle for life or death.
This is the master fisherman, the osprey.
And up against it is this - a flounder.
But which animal has the edge in the race for survival?
It's time to go 360.
We join the action at its flashpoint...
and if fish have nightmares, then this is it.
Once an osprey locks onto a target from 30 metres up in the sky,
it begins a descent that sets the flounder into sheer panic.
As you can see here, the flounder can hide...
but is that enough from a bird who has got his eyes on a swimming prize?
It's fish supper time! Well, not for sure.
As you are probably beginning to gather,
things don't really work that easily on Deadly 360,
so let's rewind the action and see how things really unfold.
This hunt takes place here in Newfoundland, Canada.
And more specifically, here...
an estuary marking the boundary between the sea and the land.
These are rich hunting grounds for all sorts of animals because they are home to a whole host of shrimps,
crabs and small fish which are ideal pickings for the flounder.
He's got his odd shaped eyes set on this particular feast.
But there is an even more lethal hunter lurking in nearby trees. Time to see our osprey in action.
So with the male and female osprey in their huge tree-top nest
it's a perfect opportunity to look at those talons.
They're longer, thinner, more curved than the peregrine
or the golden eagle which means they can skewer an pierce right through a fish, acting just like fish hooks.
This enables the bird to fly away with even the slimiest of fish.
Tiny little nodules on the underside of the toes give it even better grip.
And, like all birds of prey it has an incredible sense of sight.
Surely our flounder's going to stand no chance whatsoever against that.
The flounder's eyesight is pretty unusual. It's a flat fish,
it lives on the bottom, so its eyes have migrated around to one side
of its body, they are on top which means they are well placed to spot any kind of danger coming from above.
However, they are only really effective
when something is very close, it's best method of defence is camouflage.
Staying still is really effective because the osprey is looking out
for movement but it goes way better than that. This is an animal
that can completely change colour to match its surroundings.
So how does it manage that?
Well, it uses the same mechanism as you find in the octopus, the squid,
the cuttlefish, chameleons as well but nothing like as fast as in the flounder, have a look at this.
Ok, now obviously a chess board is not the natural habitat of the flounder but this extreme challenge
shows how dramatic that colour change can be.
First, it looks around with its eyes and checks out the colour of its environment,
then it actually starts to change colour, look at this, it's going
black and white to match the squares of the chessboard beneath it.
It does that using chromatophores, tiny pigment containing cells beneath the surface of the skin.
This is one of the most challenging hunts in the whole animal kingdom.
Not only is the osprey dealing with a prey with incredible camouflage
but it's dealing with glare from the sun and wind speed, and from the constantly changing tides.
Twice a day, the seas rise and fall and this is incredibly important to the osprey's chance of success.
They come in at a more measured pace
than the peregrine or the golden eagle -
around about 25mph - and they can only plunge to about a metre below the surface.
So at high tide the water is going to be too deep for it to try and attack a bottom-living fish like a flounder.
You can see this one has been successful - timing is absolutely everything.
Right, back up in the skies, our osprey is out looking for any sign of movement.
Now the tide is in, so the odds are against the osprey,
because the water is just too deep and the fish are beyond the osprey's diving range of a metre.
But fortune favours the trier and the osprey makes an attempt.
The flounder's eyesight and lightning reactions did not let him down there.
Let's see this back in slow motion.
Right, the osprey has locked on to its target, the eyes remain
fixed on the fish, the head's down,
the wings fold in and it drops down towards the water like a bullet.
Look at this - at the last moment the legs swing forward,
aiming the talons down almost like daggers towards the fish.
Right, now this time it's missed its target, but you have to say it is an awesome spectacle.
So, for the osprey, once it has caught the fish, that's just the start of the challenge.
Look at the enormous effort it has to expend just getting out of the water with that huge prey item.
Now, first of all, the osprey has waterproof feathers
that makes it much, much easier but still it's an enormous effort.
Right now this skeleton here should give us an idea of how it manages to do it.
Like the golden eagle it does have honeycombed, lightweight bones
and they are all fairly small apart from this.
This breastbone is where the mighty pectoral muscles fix
and it's got a thick keel running down the centre.
The breast muscles are absolutely vast -
they can be 20% of this animal's body weight.
It uses those huge muscles to power itself out of the water,
even carrying quite a sizeable fish.
Right, tide levels are absolutely perfect. It's time for our osprey to go back to the hunt.
Only the greedy flounders still exploiting the rich feeding grounds
have ignored the tide's retreat and it's those that are now in mortal danger.
The osprey hovers above the water waiting for the slightest movement.
Unaware of the danger above it, the flounder makes its own kill,
but in doing so reveals to the osprey its precise location.
Only now have the flounders eyes have alerted it to the airborne predator
and it makes a last ditch attempt at hiding in the sand.
Ordinarily, this is a great defence strategy, but remember it only works if the bird hasn't seen it first.
The osprey has seen it.
All the fish can do now is hope it has buried itself in water deeper than a metre.
The osprey begins its descent...
And bang...it hits the water.
And reaches the fish...
in go razor-sharp talons. Now for the difficult part...
getting out of the water.
After several seconds it emerges with its prize.
At first glance, the osprey's hunting method
might seem the most challenging, but they are remarkably efficient.
A young bird that's inexperienced might only succeed with 40%
of its hunts, but that's still better than a peregrine or a golden eagle.
A fully experienced mature bird could succeed as much as 90% of the time.
For the flounder, its defence strategy includes camouflage, eyesight, and electric reactions.
But it was up against the osprey, with superb vision,
razor-like talons and incredible muscle power.
You have to agree the osprey is a fishing king.
We have looked at three birds of prey with three very different strategies
for staying alive - pace, power and precision.
They look like unbeatable hunters, they seem to dominate the skies, but their prey is anything but helpless.
That's all we've got time for.
Join us next time as three more pairs of animals go head-to-head
and we analyse the action Deadly 360 style.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Email [email protected]