Image of the Day: Close Encounters

Watch a hawk close in on a target.

Jun 19, 2019
Chia-Yi Hou
A Harris hawk flying through the experimental set-up
GRAHAM TAYLOR

Researchers used high-speed cameras to observe the flight trajectories of hawks as they flew toward a manmade target that moved erratically. The scientists analyzed the trajectories and reported in Nature Communications on June 11 that the hawks navigate to the target in a way that is similar to homing missiles. This kind of flight “promotes tail-chasing and is not thrown off by erratic manoeuvres” and fits the hawk’s hunting style of chasing agile prey through cluttered environments, the authors write.

C.H. Brighton, G.K. Taylor, “Hawks steer attacks using a guidance system tuned for close pursuit of erratically manoeuvring targets,” Nat Commun, doi:10.1038/s41467-019-10454-z, 2019.

A Harris hawk banks to turn when closing in on the artificial target. It appears to keep its eyes level and directed at the target.
GRAHAM TAYLOR