Western Kingbird Delivering A Cricket To A Hungry Mouth

It isn’t easy to get two birds sharp at these focal lengths and when one of them is in flight the degree of difficulty increases exponentially.


1/3200, f/6.3, ISO 640, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, not baited, set up or called in

Yesterday morning on Antelope Island I watched as an adult Western Kingbird tried to keep a couple of hungry fledglings fed and happy. The young birds waited for food deliveries on this protective wire cage guarding one of the trees on the island and I happened to get lucky with this shot as the adult came in with a cricket (or beetle).

A lot of things had to come together for this photo. I focused on the fledgling and fired a burst as the adult approached. I got a single shot where the adult was in flight and both birds were sharp and I was also lucky enough to get a wing position/flight posture I like and catch lights in the eyes of both birds. And I didn’t even clip any body parts!

The wire and metal post are unattractive but if the birds had been in one of the trees I’d almost certainly have leaves or branches in front of them so I won’t complain too much.



1/2500, f/6.3, ISO 640, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, not baited, set up or called in

The adult had its bill and the cricket in the mouth of the youngster even before it was stable on the wire and its wings were completely folded (those shots aren’t very good so I haven’t included any of them).

I sure was happy to see these kingbirds successfully fledge a couple of youngsters. The nest of the last nesting pair I photographed on the island (two years ago) was abandoned before they even laid any eggs.




36 comments to Western Kingbird Delivering A Cricket To A Hungry Mouth

  • Charlotte Norton

    Wonderful shots Ron!


  • Oh good. If they are the ones I saw before then happy they are okay. Last time I went they cut the tree down that had their nest!
    GREAT shots!!

  • Joanne OBrien

    I love yesterday’s and today’s photos! The fledglings are so cute and you managed to capture them at the right moment. The 1st picture today has it all – nice composition, beautiful light and great content. I think the fence looks fine here! Did you photograph these from your truck or did you use a tripod? And about how far away were you? I have noticed that the fledglings seem to land closer than adult birds. As I hike I have managed to get some nice images even with my 400 mm lens!

  • That gaping maw!!!!
    I have been really, really enjoying your captures of the Fledgling Feeding Frenzy.
    Thank you.

  • April Olson

    You are on a roll with feeding fledgies. Nice to finally see more Western Kingbirds this year.

  • Linda Berkemeier

    I understand I don’t have your artist’s eye for your profession, but sometimes I have to chuckle at your “unattractive surroundings.” I think, as a somewhat fledgling birder, that this wire fence ids the appropriate location for kingbirds. I would chose it over a leafy shot of kingbirds if I were purchasing. Just sayin’.

    • Different strokes, Linda. Personally I prefer “the hand of man” to not be in my images if at all possible. But it doesn’t bother me as much as it used to…

  • Marty K

    Congrats on two fabulous photographs! I kind of like the wire because it shows off the birds’ ability to grip really well, especially the fledgling. I’m a bit more partial to the second because it shows of the gaping maw of the “baby” a little better. 😉 If this were the olympics, you’d get 10s all around — degree of difficulty AND execution! 🙂

    The scrub jays in my neighbor’s bamboo fledged quite a while ago. I miss the parents stopping by to peer through our clerestory windows on their way to the nest. Hopefully, they’ll return and do it again next season.

    • Marty, that “maw” you mention in young kingbirds is really something. When it’s wide open and they’re facing directly toward you the inside of their mouth is the brightest reddish-orange I think I’ve ever seen in nature.

  • D. Gusset

    spectacular shot!

  • Susan Stone

    I really like both of these shots. It’s wonderful seeing the babies fledged. We know that “our” Kestrels were nesting this year, but we never saw the babies. I’m sure the babies fledged because the adults are such good parents.

  • Dick Harlow

    Agree with all previous comments – great shots Ron! I have you to thank for hammering in the importance of keeping camera speed high, or at least high enough for the moment!! What a difference it has made.

  • Patty Chadwick

    I wonder if birds have nightmares about big, gaping mouths and endless squawking for food…
    Notice that wire is what we called Sheep and Goat wire, not Devil’s wire….great capture…

  • Laura Culley

    Simply spectacular, well into Oh MY, WOW territory! These images are perfect, no quibbling required 😉 And thank you again (and again, etc.) for going out there to get them!

  • Marina schultz

    Wow your pictures are a mirage of mine .. got kingbird chick sitting on mesh fence and mom feeding it a variety of bugs .. i have a kingbird family in my front property tree .. they fledged successfully ….. the swainsons fledged 2 and the ferruginous fledged 3 … plus I have a screech owl box and she fledged 3 my female kestral was killed or died no kestral babies this year 3 0ut of 4 osprey nests were successful .. thought you’d like to hear all 4 eagle nests fledged and all 5 bully bad ass great horned owl nests fledged . So all in all pretty good year

  • Ricardo Bitrán

    That´s a superb series of shots, Ron, with the first one being sensational. Congratulations.

  • Judy Gusick

    Good going, Ron! 🙂 That was a tough capture for sure. 🙂 Even if the posts/wire aren’t that attractive it sure shows off both birds………:)

  • Kent Patrick-Riley

    It is exremely hard to get everything in focus in those conditions. Congrats on doing so to capture another illuminating image!

    • Kent, It was a very slow day on the island and I wasn’t optimistic about any of these kingbird shots. I figured I’d probably delete every image I took yesterday morning.

      So I was pleasantly surprised to find that this adult in flight was sharp and I liked both poses.