Peregrine falcons may be the fastest animal on the planet, capable of reaching speeds well over 200 mph, but in hunting pigeons and other slower flying birds, their dominance in the sky is rarely challenged. When pitted against one of the fastest men on two wheels in a race downhill, however, the extent of this falcon's aerial skills are put on full display.
The program BBC Earth recently teamed up with Red Bull to produce this mesmerizing video in which pro mountain biker Gee Atherton goes head to head with the speedy bird-of-prey. The cyclist, loaded with a bag of meat on his back, skillfully handles the jumps and hairpin turns on the mountain trail in Antur Stiniog, North Wales, but it still proves no match for the falcon's speed and mid-air acrobatics.
Thankfully, both bird and biker were equipped with cameras, which makes this downhill chase all the more epic.
After watching this clip, it's no wonder these birds have long been revered throughout history, often used as symbols of power and majesty. That said, Peregrine falcons in the wild have had a troubled past with humans as well; during the 1960s and 70s, heavy use of the pesticide DDT nearly wiped out the species in some parts of the U.S. and Europe, though conservation programs have successfully stabilized their numbers in recent years.
UPDATE: Here's a neat behind-the-scenes look at how this video was made.
Check out more videos of Peregrine falcons mastering the skies from their point of view.