Autumn Horned Lark

Preening male Horned LarkPreening male Horned Lark – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 640, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

I went out shooting yesterday for the first time in a week and being where I could see birds, mountains, the Great Salt Lake and mountains was good for me. Seeing and being able to photograph birds makes me feel connected to the earth, sky and the air. One of the subjects I photographed yesterday was this male Horned Lark that was preening in the morning light on Antelope Island State Park.

Male Horned Lark with an itchMale Horned Lark with an itch – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 640, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

I like how in this frame the “horns” of the lark are visible and how I was able to get eye contact from the lark even though it was scratching. Most of the time I’ve found the birds either turn away or close their eyes when I am photographing them in a scratching pose.

Male Horned Lark all fluffed upMale Horned Lark all fluffed up – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 640, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

Summer has changed to autumn and the behaviors of the Horned Larks that have been seen through the summer but have been difficult to get close to have changed. They will start their days warming up on the boulders and rocks on the island and they are les skittish in the chilly dawn.

Yesterday was a delicious morning with cool air, a cloudless sky and lovely light. Summer has left the valley, the slopes of the mountains have begun to glow with the red colors of the oaks in autumn. Saying goodbye to the hottest summer on record here isn’t difficult to do at all especially when I know more birds are on their way.


Additional posts you might enjoy:

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. Pingback: Birding News #37 | Prairie Birder

  2. Pingback: This Week in Birding 37 by Charlotte Wasylik | Nemesis Bird

  3. Ah, such sweet light and lovely warm color! I love these birds, although I have only seen one once.

  4. I am late to the party today – but love, love, love the Horned Lark. Thank you.

  5. hoo, how beautifull is this little passerine, never seen befor for me,
    he takes poses for you like in a studio, it s wonderfull
    thanks mia, take care =))

  6. Lovely colors and photos, Mia!

  7. Perfection! Your photographs are superb, Mia! I’m looking forward to viewing these cool birds at the beach here in Chicago this month. Your images are so exquisitely captured that I often feel like I can reach out and touch the birds you feature.

  8. Merrill Ann Gonzales

    I love the scratching photo… How perfect! Love them all!

  9. You captured him beautifully! The lighting and conditions were perfect.

  10. Great Colors and detail, and the narrative really helps explain the situation. Thanks Mia!

  11. What a lovely bird. It’s one I’ve heard, but only see from a blurry distance. I believe the first time I saw them, the other birders had a good laugh at my party because we were so intent on looking for cool birds on the water, we nearly missed these guys hanging out behind us in the parking lot!

  12. What awesome shots! Thanks for sharing!

  13. Wowee, that is perfection Mia.

  14. Mia, it is a beautiful bird. And your photos are gorgeous. Happy Birding and have a great day!

Comments are closed