Prairie Falcon Takeoff

Something a little different from me today.

Readers are well aware of how much I loathe power poles in my images. And wires. And insulators. Well… this one has all three!

 

1/5000, f/6.3, 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

This is a Prairie Falcon taking off from a pole three days ago in Box Elder County. In this case the dynamic takeoff posture allows me to overlook (at least partially) the ugly pole and hardware because my eye is immediately drawn to the falcon.

Just before launch this bird had been facing to my right and away from me but at the last second (and typical of falcons) it turned on the perch and took off in my direction. And immediately after liftoff it veered sharply downward and to my left so of course I clipped body parts and lost sharp focus on the bird in flight. Prairie Falcons (and kestrels) are so incredibly nimble in the air that they have a knack for doing that to me.

But despite the ugly elements in the image I love the curved arc of the wings, the vertically fanned tail (a precursor of the sharp turn that is imminent), those huge dangling falcon feet and the in-your-face direct eye contact.

I thought long and hard before posting this image but since I kept coming back to it I eventually decided to run with it. I promise, no more poles or hardware for a good long time.

Ron

 

 

40 comments to Prairie Falcon Takeoff

  • Much better coming at you than going away.

  • Marty K

    I’m also glad you decided to post this shot. I think the whitewash on the pole makes the setting just a little more natural too. To me that sort of thing tells the stories of the living creatures that have made good use of man-made structures.

  • Dick Harlow

    VBG! I’m sorry, after reading your introduction I had to laugh when I first looked at this photo! It has everything, in the image, except for the falcon, that you don’t like! Now I have to admit that takes courage to put this picture up. I agree about the falcon, beautiful arc to the wings and he/she is headed right at you, suggesting, anthropomorphically, that he/she likes you and is just showing off!

  • Carol Vavra

    He is beautiful! A master of aerodynamics!

  • I am so very glad that you did post it.
    The Pairie Falcon is beautiful, spectacular, powerful, graceful and almost every other adjective expressing joyous wonder you can find. And how appropriate that it is flying away from man made artifacts and crap. And how I hope that the photo is symbolic.

  • Laura Culley

    THANK YOU so much for your decision to post this photo. OK, you KNOW how I am with raptors. Yes, the pole and its associated other parts are a real PITA, HOWEVER, with prairies, redtails, eagles and other raptors, you get what you get in the background and raptors LIKE those high perches. The positive part is that those poles give them a place from which they can launch a successful attack on their prey, allowing them to survive and thrive. For the raptors, those things are a HUGE plus (most of the time). But what matters here is the sheer elegance in their power of flight, the feather/wing position, the incredible intensity of their gaze and those lovely feet/talons. That’s what’s important in this image. The pole and its inherent ugliness fades to nothing in the light of that grace and elegance and I’ll take it any day of the week. That’s where I focus!
    Kris is right on target when she wrote, “In a way, those dead-looking manmade elements serve to contrast and accentuate the dynamic, living force of the bird—those hard-edged horizontals and verticals contrast starkly with the powerful diagonal sweep of wings and feathers of many sizes, textures, and colors……….” She absolutely NAILED it!
    Susan, falconers definitely have a foot fetish–the bigger they are, the more imposing and powerful, the better! We’re all fools over raptor feet! And that goes with giving us a socially acceptable outlet for our leather fetish, too. LOL!
    And finally, Jack and I had a successful hunt yesterday. He’s learning how best to manage his new Arizona environment and I did the Snoopy Dog Dance and yelled YEE HAW yesterday afternoon, then celebrated his success with a nice single-malt scotch! It was a good day and a lovely flight.
    GADS but I love raptors! And birds, critters and this beautiful Earth!

    • “And that goes with giving us a socially acceptable outlet for our leather fetish, too. LOL!”

      And LOL I did at that one, Laura! Thanks for the pleasant moment on a dreary, depressing day.

      • Laura Culley

        Ron I’ll trade you a dreary dismal day! We really need rain here. The dust is so bad I’m having huge sneezing fits with all the attendant snot fest that goes with it. Jeesh! 😉

  • Another thing I like about this image, is the effect and symbolism of the natural, beautiful bird flying away from the manmade, unnatural crap…leaving it behind, covered with s–t…

  • I was immediately struck by those big, yellow talons, the intense, front on eye contact , and, most of all, the length of those long, powerful wings…a beautiful image in spite of the manmade clutter…

  • Betty Sturdevant

    I understand your dislike for the clutter in your picture, but I enjoy what you do because I can’t imagine I will ever see or identify this beautiful creature in the wild. I believe it is the only way I would see them is in your photos.

  • Susan Stone

    Poles, wires and insulators are at least somewhat acceptable in this situation. I love the posture, love being able to see the markings, and especially the feet. You have contributed significantly to my developing a foot fetish with your wonderful photos. Never thought I’d end up with a foot fetish. 🙂

    • “You have contributed significantly to my developing a foot fetish with your wonderful photos”

      That brought a big smile, Susan – first time I’ve had that accusation hurled at me! 🙂

  • In a way, those dead-looking manmade elements serve to contrast and accentuate the dynamic, living force of the bird—those hard-edged horizontals and verticals contrast starkly
    with the powerful diagonal sweep of wings and feathers of many sizes, textures, and colors………..

  • Diana

    You were right to show this photograph. The falcon stare holds my view away from humans hardware. Those feet also. Thanks Ron

  • Jerry Ellison

    A take off coming at you is so rare and great that non matter the perch it’s a keeper and you nailed it!!! Thanks for sharing!

  • April Olson

    They make it look so easy.

  • Joanne OBrien

    Great capture of this bird in flight despite the ugly hardware!

  • Mary

    I understand your aversion to unnatural elements, but from a prairie falcon’s view, this IS natural. And they’re right. I like seeing animals appropriate ugly human designs and turn them into perches and nests. Their presence transmutes, like how the ocean turns a broken bottle into sea glass.

  • Charlotte W. Norton

    It’s a great shot Ron!

    Charlotte

  • Judy Gusick

    VERY interesting photo even with the man made articles in it. The in your face look is priceless! 🙂 All the raptors here seem to prefer poles of some sorts for hunting at least tho they do hit the trees to roost and stalk chickens 🙁 May be due to the openness in our general vicinity and the “view” it provides. Glad you posted it!

    • “May be due to the openness in our general vicinity and the “view” it provides”

      I’m sure you’re right about that, Judy.

      Your comment has me thinking. I don’t remember ever noticing Prairie Falcons near Cut Bank, MT where I grew up but you’re only about 100 miles south of there and apparently they’re more common in your area. If so I wonder why (I know, habitat, habitat, habitat… but I still think it’s a little curious).

      • Judy Gusick

        I’ve rarely seen them tho that may be more to not paying attention………:) That isn’t much difference in where they are. Just like Ospreys which we rarely see yet heading to Townsend area there a many – suspect that’s the river being closer there.

  • sallie reynolds

    Gorgeous, and so very Prairie. Those feet and eyes, the sharp wings, the arc of flight. And Prairies here in the California valley love poles. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one perched in a tree. Thanks, Ron, for a lovely start to the day.

    • ” I don’t think I’ve ever seen one perched in a tree”

      You make an interesting point, Sallie. If I have it’s only been rarely. Typically they perch on poles, rocks or cliffs in my experience.