A Singing Meadowlark Who Then Does A Weird Sideways Takeoff

For me it doesn’t get much better than a meadowlark singing on fresh, green sagebrush in the spring. But in this case it was the takeoff that really attracted my attention.


1/3200, f/6.3, ISO 800, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

As I said yesterday there’s just something special about sagebrush, at least there is for many of us westerners. I photographed this meadowlark for about two minutes the day before yesterday on Antelope Island as it performed in the morning sun. I enjoyed this bird more than most that morning because for some reason the biting gnats weren’t bothering me as I watched the performance through my lens. It seemed to be singing just for me.



1/5000, f/6.3, ISO 800, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

As you can see from my shutter speeds I was set up for takeoff and when the bird turned slightly to its right on the perch I thought I might get a decent angle for it. This was the posture of the bird an instant before it launched.



1/3200, f/6.3, ISO 800, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, canvas added for composition, not baited, set up or called in

But when it did so it gave me a takeoff angle I rarely get from any species – completely sideways. For my tastes it isn’t the best takeoff posture aesthetically but I found it interesting enough that I keep coming back to it and wondering what prompted it to launch at such an angle. There was no breeze at the moment to affect its takeoff and to me it doesn’t seem like a particularly energy-efficient way to gain air speed quickly. Perhaps it just wanted to experiment a little…

To me it’s only a novelty shot but the photo intrigued me a little and for some reason it seemed appropriate for Friday morning.




37 comments to A Singing Meadowlark Who Then Does A Weird Sideways Takeoff

  • Barbara

    Beautiful “taking-flight” photo!

  • Charlotte Norton

    Wonderful series Ron!

  • It is probably anthromorphism coming into play again, but this looks like such an exuberant take-off I can help smiling. Broadly.
    Mega thanks.
    And yes, your posts are often a wonderful antidote to the ugliness of the daily news.

  • April Olson

    Interesting shot. I like it. I miss hearing the Meadow Larks singing. I grew up with them in the neighboring fields. Centerville had a smell and a sound that I loved, which is now gone. It will probably never duplicate.

  • Alice Beckcom

    I googled Meadowlark’s singing and heard some very melodious [I like that word!] singing. The Meadowlarks were singing with such joy!

    I like your photos and also find the side shot intriguing.

    Thanks as always for doing all the work and then sharing with us lucky followers.

  • Susan Stone

    Unfortunately I’ve never had the pleasure of an encounter with a Meadowlark. This one is beautiful, and I find the takeoff angle quite intriguing. I’m another one who looks forward to the enjoyment of your blog posts every day – they help my sanity, too. Nature has a way of doing that.

  • Marty K

    I’ll bet he was giving you a belated birthday performance — both in song and gymnastic feat. That is one slick takeoff shot and I’m not just talking about the novelty factor. You got a catch light in the eye, that beautiful yellow chest is ablaze in its glory (especially against the background), nothing’s cut off and you even included a bit of sagebrush in the corner for context. Even the slight softness in the wing and primaries speaks to the kinetic energy of the takeoff.

    As far as current events go, I’ve been “ostriching” with my head in the sand as much as possible, just for sheer preservation. Even with staying away from newscasts and reading only the funnies, enough reality has leeched through my fortress to keep me stressed out and on edge. I, too, am incredibly grateful for your daily respite of beauty and education.

    Have fun around the house today. I know it isn’t what you planned, but I’ll bet you can make lemonade out of lemons — or at least have time to go to the fancy donut place. 😉

    • Yeah, I was lucky to not cut off the head in that shot, Marty. But the tip of its beak was fairly close to the frame edge before I added canvas. If mowing the lawn with a bad back is fun I guess I’ve been having it…:)

      • Marty K

        I broke down a few years ago and hired someone to come in and do the mowing and cutting. Picking up after a large dog is about the limit of my landscaping abilities these days. If My body is feeling extra good, I’ll pick lemons and oranges from our trees, but I usually just let the mowing crew help themselves. I’ve been saving my “spoons” for activities I enjoy such as my walks or working with the animals at the shelter.

  • Laura Culley

    Basically what Dick Harlow said. Birds and critters keep me sane and provide a peaceful and serene respite, an insulated safe place, from the sheer madness what’s going on in the world. You bring that joy to me every morning and thank you just doesn’t cut it for saying what’s really in my heart!
    Meadowlarks, meadowlark song (especially when the concert is just for you) and sage…it just doesn’t get much better. Seriously.

  • Dick Harlow

    With all the difficulties we and this country are in right now, it is so refreshing to wake up in the morning grab a mug of coffee and be able to look forward to your pictures and posts! This is not idle talk, I really mean it when I thank you for each mornings delightful distraction. My wife says that the current state we are in is killing me and I truthfully say, but I have Ron Dudley to keep me sane!!
    Beautiful shots Ron, Thank You!!

    • Ha, that’s a scary situation when it takes ME to keep anyone sane, Dick. I’m on the border myself, at least partly for the same reason you are. But thanks very much for the very nice sentiment!

  • Joanne OBrien

    Great take off pic. Looks like pure joy to me!

  • Ann

    I love the stretch of its legs and feet.

  • Patty Chadwick

    It’s amazing how athletic birds can be! This “super fling” pose is a great example…makes me wonder what happened after that angled take-off! He had tonhavecsome purpose for doing it….

  • Barby Anderson

    That’s cool Ron! Thanks for another series of wonderful photographs!

  • Judy Gusick

    Interesting! I’ve never really seen that either. Supposed to be stormy here today also tho calm at the moment. They are beautiful birds.:)

  • Kathy Walters

    Wow, gorgeous. Maybe he had places to go in that direction.

  • Robert (RJ) Davis

    It really is a TGIF moment, but a day early when it happened, so TGIT (Thank Goodness It’s Thursday?). Jump up for Meadowlarks!

    • It’ll be a frustrating Friday for me, Robert – high winds are forecast.

      • Robert (RJ) Davis

        Sorry to hear that, but I know you will make the most of it, and come back with another great photo/narrative! I’ve learned from you that luck favors the prepared! 🙂

        • Not this time – I’m staying home. The winds will keep the bugs down but it’ll do the same thing to the birds. Beating my head against a wall seems counterproductive… 🙂

          • Robert (RJ) Davis

            Oh, well. I guess that’s true on all points! I hope you weekend fares better. Cheers!

  • Agreed, great take off. Nice pics.