Male American Kestrel – Serendipity Happens!

Sometimes good things come to those who wait. And if you’re lucky it might even be a handsome little falcon.

Yesterday when I first pulled up in my pickup to the favorite fishing tree of the male Belted Kingfisher I’ve been photographing for a while (yes, I’m addicted…) he was already on his favorite perch and sitting close and pretty (usually he shows up later, he’s been quite punctual). It takes me a couple of minutes to get situated on the passenger side of my pickup and get all my gear arranged and the kingfisher watched me the entire time I was doing it so I thought I was about to have an exciting session with him.

But that little devil had other plans. I had just raised my lens raised toward him and quickly glanced down at my camera settings at the bottom of the viewfinder to see if they were appropriate for the situation and when I looked back up he was gone. Apparently to another county because I had no idea where he went.

So I settled down and waited. And waited and waited some more, on the chance he might return (he did, but not until much later). I’ll admit it, eventually I became bored and looked at my phone but while I was doing so my peripheral vision picked up a very slight movement fairly close in the tree in front of me and to my right. I was surprised because the kingfisher had never perched anywhere near that spot but I figured it must be him doing a little exploring. If you don’t actually see a bird fly into this tree it’s almost impossible to spot because the tree is so thickly jumbled with branches.

But when I finally spotted the source of the movement it wasn’t my fishing king.


1/4000, f/7.1, ISO 640, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

Instead it was this dapper little male American Kestrel and he’d actually (I couldn’t believe it) chosen a spot among the mass of twigs and branches at eye level where I had an almost completely clear view of him and I even liked the way some of the busy twigs framed him in the image. I also liked the background colors and the dappled light in much of the image. I enjoy the heck out of natural settings like this even when everything isn’t aesthetically perfect.

It was obvious that he was hunting from this perch because he was often scanning the ground just below him for prey (probably large insects at this location). He allowed me almost five minutes while he was on this perch before he eventually took off and hunted from a much higher perch on the same tree far above me – so high I almost felt like I was giving him a colonoscopy with my lens so I allowed him his dignity and went back to my phone (or something else, can’t remember what it was for sure).

Almost without exception when I’m attempting to photograph a raptor within (not on top of) a tree this thick with branches I have to attempt to maneuver my pickup to get a clear shot of my subject through all the obstructions. When I do the bird often flies off or sometimes moves to another spot (they feel safer with branches between us).

But this little guy picked a near-perfect spot on his own. Despite the stink-eye he was giving me I could have hugged him for that.




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