The Peregrine Falcons of the Little Rann of Kutch
Updated: Jul 16
It's the fastest bird in the world. According to a National Geographic program, the peregrine falcon has been measured diving at 389kmph. That speed also makes it the fastest member of the animal kingdom. But you probably knew all that. But the peregrine falcon holds another speed record. It has a visual processing speed that’s the fastest of any animal tested so far. It can register discrete changes up to 129Hz. Which means that if a peregrine falcon were to watch TV with you, and most TVs have a refresh rate of 60Hz, it would only see a series of flashing images and not a fluid video as we would. To put it in simpler terms, the images would need to refresh or change at least at 129 frames per second for anything to register as a fluid movement. For humans, that rate is 24 frames per seconds.
Its vision, combined with its speed, make it a formidable hunter too. Peregrines soar high in the sky and spot their prey from above. The prey is often other birds and bats which the peregrine dive bombs from above and catches mid-flight. For the peregrine falcon, everyone is a slowpoke. It's a successful hunter that has managed to find a home around the world. The Indian peregrine falcon also called the black shaheen, or the Indian shaheen is one of the 19 sub-species that exist. This raptor likes wide-open spaces, and the little Rann of Kutch is a 5,000sq.km. wide open space. It absolutely thrives here.
But like other birds that live in the Rann, the peregrine has modified its behaviour to survive this harsh environment. The Little Rann is mostly a flat desert with minimal tree cover. It has to make do with what's available. So occasionally, the peregrine will rest on the ground under a tree. But the strangest resting spot was a rock marker used by people for navigation. Our guide told us that the falcon often chooses this spot to rest despite there being no tree, source of water, or any sign of life nearby. It just likes being away from everything and everyone. We understand.