What gets many people excited about peregrines is the stoop: the high-speed vertical dive, with wings pressed close to the body, that they use to attack prey from above. As we saw yesterday, this can exceed 200 mph when the bird is dropped from a high-altitude balloon, though it’s unlikely those speeds are attained in normal hunting. Today we have two videos of the behavior that makes peregrines the top guns of the animal world.
A little owl’s legs are surprisingly thick and powerful for so small a bird. They look slightly hairy, like an animal’s legs. The whole bird looks completely out of proportion when perching, like a two-legged head. One must try not to be anthropomorphic, yet it cannot be denied that little owls are very funny to watch. In flight, they are just owls, but at rest they seem to be natural clowns. They do not know it, of course. And that makes them much funner, for they always appear indignant, outraged, brimming over with choler. There is nothing funny about their sharp claws and rending beak. They are killers. That is what they are for. But whenever I see one close, in a tree, I laugh aloud.
–J. A. Baker, The Peregrine