Each Friday night in the fall, local student athletes face off on the football field. But for a moment, let’s forget all that. Let’s take a different look at the battle — who would win in a fight, a falcon or a raider? The Times spoke with experts to determine the answer. And each Friday this season, we pit two different mascots against each other.
In its first season as a member of Region 8-AAAA, Flowery Branch has a region and overall record of 5-0 and looks to be in the region driver’s seat heading into today’s visit to Habersham Central.
Habersham is on the other side of the spectrum at 2-4 in the region and two games back of a playoff spot.
But for a bit, forget those records. We’re taking a look instead at a hypothetical matchup between the school’s mascots, falcons and raiders.
Who would come out on top of that battle?
Falcons may seem easy prey for the human warriors known as raiders, but the bird can also dive at prey at up to 200 mph to deliver an often fatal blow. It may be a tougher battle than some think.
Georgia is home to three species of falcons — the peregrine, merlin and kestrel — said Ken Riddleberger, Georgia Department of Natural Resources area supervisor for game management in the Wildlife Resources Division.
Falcons are known for their exceptionally fast drives, and their main diet is other birds, such as hawks and sparrows. Falcons are such gifted hunters, they are sometimes trained to hunt game for humans, a sport known as falconry.
“At that high rate of speed, they break the back of a bird and catch them as fall to the ground,” Riddleberger said.
Raiders, of course, also are tough fighters, though accustomed to battling humans, not birds.
Historically, raiders have used ships and horses to plan sudden, aggressive attacks, said Winter Elliot, an associate professor of English at Brenau University. They use whatever weapon comes to hand and seems most appropriate to the enemy, including spears and swords. They also are usually unlikely to strike a fully prepared enemy.
“The Raiders study their opponents’ weaknesses and plan their counterattacks to exploit gaps in the defense,” Elliot said.
So would falcons be a vulnerable target for a raid?
Riddleberger said the bird’s staggering speed could give it the edge.
“They would need to strike and get away, would be the thing,” he said.
Elliot said eagles are one of the few creatures who prey successfully upon falcons. If the raiders can take a tip from them, they may succeed. But it could easily go the other way, as well.