Earlier this morning I spotted a Prairie Falcon perched on a rock while on the Antelope Island Causeway, before we could get stopped and into position to photograph the falcon it took off over the water and attacked a Northern Shoveler. The duck was floundering in the water and the Prairie Falcon flew over and past it when I took this image.
The Prairie Falcon made several passes up and down the shoreline, landing, then taking off again. The waves pushed the dying Northern Shoveler closer and closer to the shore.
When the duck reached the shoreline the falcon showed a bit of hesitation about going over to it and after a bit the bird flew over to the Shoveler which was still part way in the water.
The Prairie Falcon tore into the neck of the duck at this point even while the waves rocked the duck and the falcon gently back and forth.
The the falcon gripped the duck with its talons, I wasn’t sure if it was going to fly away with its prey or just bring it on to the shore.
The Prairie Falcon seemed to struggle a bit with the weight of the Shoveler which can weigh up to 1.3 pounds (375 grams).
The falcon used its wings and its free foot to move the duck.
It seemed determined to move it away from the water.
I really liked this pose and the great eye contact the raptor was giving me.
The falcon continued to drag the duck to drier ground.
It finally made it! The small waves were not reaching this section of the shoreline. I like how this shows the yellow feet, the dark tips of the talons and the yellow cere of this adult Prairie Falcon.
The falcon wasted no time and tore into the breast of the Northern Shoveler and feathers were flying as it did. I wish that the bird had been closer but if it had been it might not have stuck around to eat its prey in front of us. The light began to fade as another cloud came in from the west, it was snowing (again) to the south and west.
The falcon really chowed down on the Shoveler as we watched and photographed. When we left because the light was leaving us the handsome raptor was still there and still eating the duck.
I have to tell you it feels totally awesome to watch a falcon attack, bring in and eat the prey it caught naturally. These birds are simply amazing.
All of these images were taken with my Nikon D300 and Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC lens resting on my noodle. The Prairie Falcon wasn’t baited, it supplied its own food.
(I took a boat load of images of this falcon, these were just a few that I liked)