Ride, ride, ride…Hitching a ride

As a bird and nature photographer there are always images that I dream of getting, sometimes it is of a certain species or a specific setting. Some of those images I have been fortunate enough to create, others; not yet.

European Starling hitching a ride on a Bison

 European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) hitching a ride on a Bison –  Nikon d200, f8, 1/1000, ISO 400, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 18-200mm VR at 170mm, natural light

Since moving to Utah in the summer of 2009 I have wanted to get some images of a Bison standing with the Great Salt Lake in the background. I had gotten them grazing on the hillsides, rolling around in a wallow, with calves, near the rocks and laying down but I hadn’t gotten the images I wanted with the lake clearly visible in the background.

Patience does pay off because two days ago I was able to get a series of images of this Bison with the Great Salt Lake clearly in view plus I had the added bonuses of having the snow topped Wasatch Mountain Range in the distance and a European Starling hitching a ride.

So, on to my next “dream” shot, I wonder when it will happen.


* It isn’t uncommon to see Brown-headed Cowbirds or European Starlings perched on the backs of Bison.

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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and photographing birds. My approach is to photograph the birds without disturbing their natural behavior. I don't bait, use set ups or call them in. I use Nikon gear and has multiple camera bodies and lenses.


  1. Patience pays off, and so does planning. This is a wonderful composition, and the bird on the bison is the icing.

  2. We all have dream shots in mind and it is always great to see one come to fruition. I am glad that you got yours. A beautiful shot of the Bison.

  3. What a nice photograph. It’s great when everything comes together. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Lovely! Is it the curse of the photographer that there’s always another perfect image just beyond the horizon?

    • Laurence, I think it is a blessing that there is always another great opportunity for wonderful images just beyond the horizon! Thanks for your comment on this image.

  5. That is an amazing photo! The background is beautiful!

  6. Cool shot! I saw Brewer’s Blackbirds on the back of bison on my most recent trip to the island.

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