Another Meadowlark Series (but for me this one’s special)

This may be the most humorous series I’ve ever photographed but then my mother always did say I had a warped sense of humor.

  • I seldom post the same species two days in a row but in this case I’ll make an exception (I don’t know the sex of this bird but for the sake of convenience I’ll refer to it as a male).

 

1/2000, f/7.1, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

Yesterday morning on Antelope Island I spent some time with this Western Meadowlark as he foraged for food in the vegetation that’s now finally greening up. Usually when a bird turns its back to me I don’t fire off any shots so I missed it when he used his bill to turn over the bison poop we see in front of the bird to the left. But he seemed to have found something edible under the bison dropping so at that point I began to fire off a burst to see if I got lucky with something interesting.

Anyone who’s grown up on a farm knows that large animal droppings often have a host of invertebrate critters living beneath them. Hungry meadowlarks know that too.

 

 

1/1600, f/7.1, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

When he stood more erect he seemed to be tugging hard on something but at first I couldn’t see what it was.

  • How well do you remember your high school biology? Earthworms have several rows of stiff bristles on the ventral side of their body called setae. Those bristles point backward and are used to push against the soil as their body propels itself forward in the burrow. They also make it very difficult to pull an earthworm out of its hole – as any bait fisherman knows and this meadowlark is about to find out.

 

 

1/2500, f/7.1, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

It was an earthworm. Here we see part of it (nearly parallel to the bird’s left leg) and being stretched between the burrow that it desperately clung to and the pulling bill of the meadowlark,

 

 

1/2000, f/7.1, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

The bird pulled harder on the worm…

 

 

1/2000, f/7.1, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

until it was stretched as thin and tight as a piano wire. Something had to give and something did.

 

 

1/2500, f/7.1, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

The end of the tightly stretched worm finally popped out of the hole and when it did the release of all that stored energy twisted the bird to my right and gave me a perfect look at the bird, the recoiling worm and the results of all that released tension. For me this is the money shot – the one that finally tells the story that was more difficult to interpret in the previous images. And it’s the one that makes me smile.

 

 

1/2500, f/7.1, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

After all that effort it didn’t take him long to gobble down the worm.

All this happened so fast I didn’t really know the details until I reviewed the images at home. All I knew in the field was that the bird turned over the poop, found something, struggled with it for a few moments and then swallowed it. When the shutter is firing that often and that quickly it obscures my view so sometimes it’s difficult to know exactly what’s going on.

Anyway, these images gave me a laugh and I hope you enjoyed them too.

Ron

 

 

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