Adult Prairie Falcon with a full crop

Adult Prairie Falcon after a mealAdult Prairie Falcon after a meal – Nikon D300, f8, 1/1250, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 328mm, natural light, not baited

There was some beautiful light yesterday after several days of gloomy gray so I had to get out to see if I remembered how to use my camera.

After leaving Antelope Island I spotted this adult Prairie Falcon perched on a rock near the shoulder of the causeway. It was obvious that the falcon had just finished a meal because there was blood showing on the ventral feathers, there were bits of meat on the talons and most importantly the bird’s crop was bulging. The crop is an expandable muscular pouch near the throat or gullet used for food storage prior to the digestive process. In this image the crop extends down from just below the bill to just slightly above the raised foot and talons of the falcon and side to side to the frontal edge of the mantle and scapulars.

I wish I had been in a better position with a better angle of light but due to vegetation growing along the road there were just a few clear areas between the Rabbitbrush to get an unobstructed view of the Prairie Falcon but I do like how the photo shows off the full crop.


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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 to pursue my passion for photographing birds.


  1. I did not know about food storage in the ‘crop’ and another interesting hawk tidbit, wonderful shot Mia.

  2. Humming Bird Lover

    What a beautiful shot!! The color ,form and best of all the pose and the Bird! Wow so life like it jumps rigth out of the photo. love it,love it. Keep up the great work!

  3. Great capture Mia! Looks like the Falcon enjoyed a hearty meal!

  4. I think the thing I love the best in this image is the light. I love that light. The white on the breast of the falcon, so wonderful. Carol

  5. Beautifully detailed image, beautiful.

  6. Fabulous capture Mia and the light was indeed really super! I love the great shots you find!

  7. The photo is great, Mia! The only time I’ve seen a Prairie falcon was while it was eating, but I didn’t see a full crop.

  8. absolutely spectacular!!

  9. Hi Mia, I think it’s a great image! I’m not a photographer, so I am not qualified to comment on technical details, but I think it captures the bird (and the moment!) beautifully. The picture clearly shows what this bird does for a living, and it appears to be quite successful in that regard….

  10. Another lovely photo. The details are really exquisite!

  11. The lighting yesterday out in the field and on today’s post did not work at all for me. The weather, lighting and wildlife never seem to coordinate well for us photographers….so I’m glad you got a beautiful shot of this bird. Looks great!

  12. My son and I seen one out to BRBR yesterday but we seen it to late.
    Great shot.

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