Loggerhead Shrike expelling a pellet – Friday Photos

/, Antelope Island State Park, Davis County, Loggerhead Shrikes, Utah/Loggerhead Shrike expelling a pellet – Friday Photos

Loggerhead Shrikes are interesting birds, they are classified as song birds but they also have raptor like behaviors in my opinion. They are fierce, handsome and they can be quite vocal. I usually hear them just before I see them.

Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) expelling a pelletLoggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) expelling a pellet  –  Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 400, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited or set up

Yesterday I spotted this Loggerhead Shrike singing away on a branch of a tree, it was really raising a ruckus and it sounded like these Shrike’s do when they are in mating season. With as little “winter” as we have had this year maybe the birds and animals are getting confused.

Anyway, I loved the wonderful setting I found this bird in, out in the open, no distracting branches and the background was so distant that I knew I’d get a nice, smooth look to the background because of the bokeh of my lens. This might look like a typical Bird on a Stick (BOAS) set up shot because of that, but this is completely natural and taken in the wild.

Loggerhead ShrikeLoggerhead Shrike –  Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 400, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited or set up

While watching and photography the Shrike’s behavior I could tell that it might regurgitate a pellet because it would open its bill without any sound which seems to be an early indicator of pellet expulsion. Pellet expulsion occurs rapidly so I didn’t want to take my eye off of the bird. I should have looked at my EV settings though. I really didn’t need +0.7 exposure compensation, I could have gotten away without making any adjustment to my compensation but I was able to reduce the brightness in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) easily because I shoot in RAW.

In the image above the pellet can be seen in the throat at the base of the bill, when this behavior happens the Shrike almost always has its head pointing down which often means the lack of light in the eye but in this case because of the angle of the sun I was able to get a catchlight.

Loggerhead ShrikeLoggerhead Shrike –  Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 400, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited or set up

 In the image above the pellet has moved further towards the tip of the bill and the bird appears to be struggling a bit less in the process.

Loggerhead Shrike ~ pellet expulsion completed  Loggerhead Shrike ~ pellet expulsion completed – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 400, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited or set up

It isn’t everyday that I get to see and photograph a Loggerhead Shrike expelling a pellet! If I had reached for my coffee, sneezed or even glanced away from the bird I would have missed this behavior and getting these photographs.

Mia

28 Comments

  1. Linda Rockwell February 9, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Another amazing photo series! I’m certainly happy that I discovered your photo blog!

    • Mia McPherson February 9, 2012 at 3:43 pm

      Thank you so much Linda, I am glad I discovered your blog too!

  2. Dawn Fine February 9, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Wow..Great shots!!

    • Mia McPherson February 9, 2012 at 8:28 am

      Thank you Dawn, birds are just so fascinating!

  3. Beverly Everson February 9, 2012 at 7:20 am

    Your work amazes me! Keep it up!!!

    • Mia McPherson February 9, 2012 at 7:26 am

      Thanks so much Beverly, we have such fascinating subjects that I can’t get enough of them!

  4. Dan Huber February 9, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Amazing Mia, you are great at capturing the lives of the birds. Love the shots.

    • Mia McPherson February 9, 2012 at 7:26 am

      Thank you very much Dan, your comment is much appreciated!

  5. Julie G. February 4, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Truly awesome captures of bird behavior! I have not had many opportunities to view Loggerhead Shrikes, so it’s especially nice to see one close-up (as unappetizing as it may be) on your fabulous blog.

    • Mia McPherson February 4, 2012 at 9:52 pm

      Julie, thanks so much for your comments, I really appreciate them. I hope that you get some opportunities to get closer to Loggerhead Shrikes, they are awesome birds.

  6. Maggie LR February 3, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    Such clarity, amazing, great captures. It is so easy to be distracted and miss a perfect moment. I glad you were focused.

    • Mia McPherson February 3, 2012 at 6:22 pm

      Thanks for visiting my site Maggie and for taking the time to comment on my images. It is easy to get distracted and miss great shots!

  7. Kathleen Finnerty February 3, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Great capture – I would have been the one reaching for the coffee!

    • Mia McPherson February 4, 2012 at 9:51 pm

      Thanks Kathy, I am lucky I didn’t sneeze!

  8. Bob Zeller February 3, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    How fortunate that you were at the right place at the right time. I love those little guys. Very feisty, but what else can you say about a bird that wears a black mask. 🙂

    Great series of photos, Mia.

    • Mia McPherson February 3, 2012 at 4:39 pm

      Bob, I love Loggerhead Shrikes too and that mask is too darn cute. Thanks for your comment on these photos.

  9. Prairie Birder February 3, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    I have had a bird pellet filled day, the first pellet post was at http://birdscalgary.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/saw-whet-owl-and-pellet/ and now yours! You were very lucky to catch such neat behavior of the shrike.

    • Mia McPherson February 3, 2012 at 1:05 pm

      Thank you PrairieBirder, I was lucky to come up on this Shrike when it was getting ready to expell the pellet. It is neat behavior and I’m always happy when I can capture it.

  10. Tammy Karr February 3, 2012 at 11:21 am

    You always capture the most amazing bird behaviors!

    • Mia McPherson February 3, 2012 at 1:04 pm

      Tammy, thanks. I’m in the field a lot!

  11. Scott February 3, 2012 at 9:19 am

    !!! Great light and action. Just terrific that you were able to capture this behaviour, and capture it so well.

    • Mia McPherson February 3, 2012 at 1:03 pm

      Thanks so much Scott, I’ve photograhed them now often enough to know when they are going to expell a pellet, thatcomes in handy for action shots!

  12. Ryan February 3, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Very cool and great images. Still would be a life bird for me.

    • Mia McPherson February 3, 2012 at 12:57 pm

      Ryan,

      I hope that you get to see and photograph a Loggerhead Shrike soon, they are a fascinating bird. Thanks for your comment.

  13. Robert Mortensen February 3, 2012 at 7:38 am

    Beautiful and gross images. Love it!

    • Mia McPherson February 3, 2012 at 12:55 pm

      Robert, thanks for your comment and the giggle I got from reading it!

  14. Steve Creek February 3, 2012 at 7:06 am

    Wow! Great timing Mia!

    • Mia McPherson February 3, 2012 at 12:55 pm

      Thanks Steve, good thing I didn’t blink!

Comments are closed.