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Peregrines and Pigeon Plumages

Deceptive -- and protective!

Urban Peregrine Falcons rely on Rock Pigeons for much of their diet. But some pigeons appear harder to catch than others. Pigeons with white rumps evade pursuing falcons more often than those with dark rumps. When scientists took dark-rumped pigeons and colored their rumps white, their survival rate improved. The white rump, contrasting sharply with dark wings, may deceive the pursuing falcon, perhaps just long enough to give the pursuer the slip.

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Transcript: 
BirdNote®
Peregrines and Pigeon Plumages

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote!
 [Peregrine Falcon’s loud calls]
 Elegant Peregrine Falcons now nest in many North American cities, where tall buildings mimic the sheer cliffs of their traditional nesting sites. These downtown Peregrine Falcons rely on a ready supply of Rock Pigeons – the typical city pigeon – for much of their urban diet. [Rock Pigeon cooing]
 Pigeons have every right to be nervous about the success of Peregrines. The crow-sized falcons – which chase down their prey in mid-air – are among the swiftest of all predators. In their aerial dives, Peregrines reach speeds of over 200 miles an hour. [Peregrine Falcon calls]
 But some pigeons appear harder to catch than others.
 Pigeons come in a variety of colors and patterns, although all have dark wings. Those pigeons with white rumps evade pursuing falcons more often than those with dark rumps. When scientists took dark-rumped pigeons and colored their rumps white, their survival rate improved. [Rock Pigeon cooing]
 All pigeons make an evasive maneuver when chased by falcons. A pigeon’s white rump, because it contrasts so sharply with its dark wings, may deceive the pursuing falcon, perhaps just long enough to give the speedy pursuer the slip. [Peregrine Falcon’s loud calls]
Learn more about the research and see photos of these birds on our web site, BirdNote.org.
###

Bird audio provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Peregrine Falcon call recorded by G. Vyn.  Rock Pigeon calls recorded by A.L. Priori.
Ambient city sounds by Kessler Productions.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2012 Tune In to Nature.org     October 2012     Narrator: Frank Corrado

ID# 101607PEFA6KPLU    PEFAROPI-01-FCr

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