Incredible footage captures the moment a hawk snatches a bat out of the air.
Hawks are insanely acrobatic and extraordinarily effective hunters. Recently, videographers captured awe-inspiring scenes of Swainson’s hawks dive-bombing swarms of bats at nearly 100 miles per hour.
These hawks generally hunt small mammals, reptiles and insects, but have learned that an almost guaranteed meal awaits them seasonally outside of certain caves. Millions of bats migrate from Mexico to southern Texas each year, and leave the safety of the caves each evening to feed. Exiting the cave is a risky endeavor; some of the bats have to travel up to 50 miles to find enough insects to eat.
The hawks seek out stragglers on the edge of the swarms, and the most skilled can pluck them out of the air easily. The best can even snag a bat with one talon while holding one with the other.
Photo by jerryTsai
Videographers reported seeing anywhere between 8 and 15 hawks preying on bats at a given time.
Hawks are highly adapted for such hunting. They have more color receptors in their eyes than humans, which this gives them the ability to pick up on ultraviolet light. They can also pick up on magnetic fields, have a second set of eye muscles not found in other animals. Their vision is also incredible sharp — it’s estimated to be about eight times more acute than humans!
Paired with muscular legs, sharp and powerful claws, hooked bills, and the ability to fly over 100 miles per hour during dives, these guys are built to be top-notch predators.
Watch the incredible footage from the BBC below.