Brewer’s Blackbird At Pre-launch

Sometimes a pose just grabs me and this image is one of those.

 

brewer's blackbird 0487 ron dudley

1/2500, f/5.6, ISO 640, Canon 7D Mark 2, Canon EF500mm f/4L IS II USM +1.4 tc, canvas added for composition, not baited, set up or called in 

Mixed flocks of Red-winged and Brewer’s Blackbirds have been hanging around Glover Pond in Farmington for weeks now.  I photographed this male Brewer’s Blackbird the first week of November just as he was about to launch from a severely tilted post next to the pond, which is the background here.  I like the rather unique pose, the implied energy of the impending take-off, the bonky and unexpected angles of both bird and post and the overall gray and black simplicity of the photo.  Images like this often have limited appeal and at first I wasn’t sure about this one either but I kept coming back to it so I decided to go with the flow and post it.

Two days ago my friend Shyloh Robinson reported seeing a male Rusty Blackbird at almost exactly this same location.  The Rusty is classified as an “accidental” in Utah, meaning it is not expected here and is out of its normal range.  That species would be a lifer for me so you can bet that I’ll be keeping a sharp eye out (or at least as sharp as my old eye can get) on my next visit to the area.

Ron

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Black-billed Magpie With An Apparent Kill

Black-billed Magpies feed primarily on carrion, ground-dwelling arthropods and seeds.  But yesterday morning I photographed a magpie with an apparent kill, a vole.  I’m not particularly proud of the images (several of them could be sharper) but was happy to document the behavior.

 

black-billed magpie 2147 ron dudley

 1/2000, f/6.3, ISO 640, Canon 7D Mark 2, Canon EF500mm f/4L IS II USM +1.4 tc, not baited, set up or called in

I noticed that this bird had something in its beak as I approached it along the road adjacent to Glover Pond in Farmington.  It wasn’t until I got my lens on the bird (through a bunch of foreground vegetation) that it became obvious that it was a vole.  After a couple of shots…

 

 

black-billed magpie 2160 ron dudley

  1/4000, f/6.3, ISO 640, Canon 7D Mark 2, Canon EF500mm f/4L IS II USM +1.4 tc, not baited, set up or called in

the magpie flew off to another perch and set the vole on top for a few moments.  I like the vole’s little paw sticking up in an apparent surrender that’s obviously too late.

 

 

black-billed magpie 2166 ron dudley

  1/2500, f/6.3, ISO 640, Canon 7D Mark 2, Canon EF500mm f/4L IS II USM +1.4 tc, not baited, set up or called in

It then reached down to grab the vole…

 

 

black-billed magpie 2182 ron dudley

 1/2500, f/6.3, ISO 640, Canon 7D Mark 2, Canon EF500mm f/4L IS II USM +1.4 tc, canvas added for composition, not baited, set up or called in

and flew off with it once again.

Magpies are occasionally known to kill prey (especially small birds in the nest) though in my experience it’s a relatively rare occurrence.  It’s more common for them to steal food from predators (kleptoparasitism) which makes me wonder if this bird might have pilfered the vole from a kestrel.  It’s even possible that the vole had been cached by another predator and the magpie encountered it serendipitously (the vole appeared stiff and could even have been frozen).  It’s interesting to speculate but I’ll never know for sure.

If any of my readers have had experience with magpies as predators I’d be very interested in hearing about it.

Ron

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