I just arrived home a few hours ago from an exhilarating six-day camping and photo trip to western Montana. The weather and light were good most of the time, the birds and mammals often cooperative and always interesting, the natural splendors of that part of the state were infinitely refreshing (as they always are) and once again we met some colorful and interesting characters that I won’t soon forget. It was one of the best trips ever and at the moment I’m both refreshed and exhausted.
I have many thousands of images to cull and lots of processing to do (plus jury duty looms on my horizon next week) so my schedule is exceptionally full but I thought I’d do a quick post of some interesting behavior I photographed on our second day of the trip.
The only redeeming quality of these images is the fairly unusual prey of this male American Kestrel so this post is documentary only.
Anyone who follows my blog knows that I observe and photograph kestrels often but I’ve never before seen one with snake prey. In my experience it’s always been voles, mice, small birds or (less often) insects. When we first noticed this bird it already had the snake on this bush perch.
For a moment it seemed to struggle with the reptile like it might still be alive or twitching but I couldn’t be sure of that and a few seconds later…
it flew off with the snake dangling below.
BNA Online says that kestrels occasionally take small snakes as prey but relative to the size of the bird I’m not sure I’d call this a small snake. I suspect it might have been an interesting struggle to watch when this kestrel first pounced on the snake - an encounter I’d love to photograph one day.
I do wish I knew the species of snake. I thought the color in the last shot resembled that of a Rubber Boa but the shape doesn’t look quite right with that tapered tail. Any ideas?
I’m sure I’ll be posting many interesting images from this last Montana trip over the next few weeks so stay tuned…