Falcons are well known for their speed and agility. They prey primarily on other birds and generally catch their prey on the wing. (Small falcons like kestrels often eat large insects or small rodents in addition to birds.) All falcons are sleek with pointed wings and capable of fast flight, but Peregrine Falcons in particular are noted for their high-speed dives. I have been fortunate to witness such dives on several occasions, and they remain impressive every time. A recent paper in PLoS ONE examines the aerodynamics of diving Peregrine Falcons through a series of experiments.
|A typical sequence of images taken during a dive at the selected points. Source: PLoS ONE|
|Flow visualization on the surface of the falcon model (A) and the falcon at the same flight position (B). Source: PLoS ONE|
Benjamin Ponitz, Anke Schmitz, Dominik Fischer, Horst Bleckmann, & Christoph Brücker (2014). Diving-Flight Aerodynamics of a Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) PLoS ONE DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0086506