Red-tailed Hawk With A “Slice” To Be Proud Of

For raptor enthusiasts a “slice” has nothing to do with golf. Falconers and others refer to the ejection of fecal matter by birds of prey as a slice. Interestingly falcon excrement drops straight down but hawks and eagles fling their fecal matter out behind them some distance and often with significant velocity.


This is the male of the nesting pair of Red-tailed Hawks I’ve posted other photos of recently. Yesterday morning I only spent a few minutes with him while he was away from the nest and his mate was on eggs. He was far away from me so these images have been cropped significantly and some of them are sharper than others.

At one point he gave me a nice wing lift and I guess he figured that as long as he had his tail up and out of the way he might as well defecate.



I really don’t have an undue fascination with poop but with birds things happen so quickly that I often instinctively fire off a burst when their behavior changes to make sure I don’t miss anything interesting. That means I take a lot of “poop shots”. So when this guy let loose, especially since he was performing a wing stretch at the same time, I fired away.



But this time the string of excrement just kept comin’ and comin’…



until the flying poop looked to be approaching 3′ long.

I’ve seen raptors slice many thousands of times over the years but I thought this was a particularly impressive performance. The poor bird must have been “backed up” all the way to his gizzard!



Even the hawk seemed impressed as he looked back at his handiwork. After this shot I left the bird and drove down the road looking for other subjects figuring nothing could top that performance.

I suppose these are just “novelty shots” but hey – it’s Saturday morning. What better time for it?





Short-eared Owl Takeoff

My first of year Short-eared Owl flight shot is always somewhat of a milestone for me.


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

I’m finally seeing a few more “shorties” in northern Utah this spring. Last year was a banner year for them around here and I’m still not sure this year will be as productive for them (and for me) as 2016 was but things are beginning to look up a little.

Two days ago I photographed this one perched on a metal post. I’d had several opportunities earlier that morning but they always took off away from me. This bird stared directly to its left for some time so I thought it was going to take off after prey in that direction which had the potential to give me an interesting twisting takeoff and a nice side view in flight.



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

But as they often do this owl didn’t follow my script and at the last second pushed off almost directly at me…



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

and then during the first down-stroke of its wings it split the difference between a right angle and a head-on takeoff and flew off obliquely to me. In the shot just prior to this one in the burst those incredibly long wings were almost perfectly vertical and I clipped both of them. The story of my life…

In the interest of full disclosure: The tip of another metal post poked into the frame at lower right and it was so ugly and distracting I got rid of the damn thing. Another seduction chalked up by the clone tool.

Because of all of our spring rains (we had another downpour last night) the countryside is finally greening up enough that my backgrounds are no longer that same old dead vegetation color that I’ve become weary of. The change is a welcome one.



Addendum: I’m adding this photo in response to a request from Marty K in a comment below. I remembered incorrectly when I wrote my text – I didn’t cut off both wings, only one. And as you can see, one eye is mostly shut.

However there’s something interesting about that eye. I don’t often see a photo of an owl, or any bird for that matter, where an eyelid is half closed and the nictitating membrane is also have closed at the same time.