Female Horned Lark and a Long-tailed Duck ~ Friday Photos

/, Birds, Davis County, Horned Larks, Utah/Female Horned Lark and a Long-tailed Duck ~ Friday Photos

It snowed last night and the ground here was covered in white but the clouds were disappearing so off I went to photograph whatever I might find on Antelope Island State Park. I was hoping that it had as much; if not more, snow than had fallen here at home but there was less of the white powdery stuff out there.

Female Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris) balancing on a Sunflower seed headFemale Horned Lark balancing on a Sunflower seed head – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 640, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not a set up

I was photographing this female Horned Lark on a boulder when she flew and landed on a wild Sunflower seed head and fluttered her wings for a while as she tried to get her balance. I love to get them on something besides a rock or the ground.

Immature male Long-tailed DuckImmature male Long-tailed Duck – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/3200, ISO 640, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

Before I left the park I spotted an immature male Long-tailed Duck; a sea duck, near the shoreline along the causeway. They are uncommon visitors here so that was a big thrill.



  1. Julie Brown March 4, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Getting a good photo is how I count my lifers. It is a good thing that hunting season is limited, and now over. Shows how much I know about hunting. 🙂

    • Mia McPherson March 4, 2012 at 3:28 pm

      Julie, unfortunately the Long-tailed Duck was attacked and killed by a Northern Harrier last evening. The birders here; including myself, had come to the conclusion that the duck was ill. That made it easier for the Harrier to kill and consume it. The cycle of life continues.

  2. Dave Sparks March 3, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Wonderful shots Mia. The sunflower seed heads make such a nice perch for the Lark. Congrats on finding the Long-tail duck and getting such a nice shot. I hope to see one some day.

    • Mia McPherson March 4, 2012 at 3:32 pm

      Dave, it is always wonderful to get a Horned Lark perched on something besides the ground or a rock. I was tickled with the sunflower seed perch! The Long-tailed Duck was killed and eaten by a Northern Harroer last evening. WE (birders here in the area) had come to the conclusion that the duck was ill, it only slept and never really opened its eyes all the way. That made it easy prey for the Harrier.

  3. Julie Brown March 3, 2012 at 5:48 am

    The long-tailed duck is a cutie! Was that a lifer for you, or have you seen them before? I sure hope no one comes along and shoots it.

    • Mia McPherson March 3, 2012 at 6:06 am


      At first I thought it was a lifer for me but that was because of the name. Long-tailed Dicks used to be called “Oldsquaw” and that is the name I knew them by. Somtome in 1990 the name was changed to Long-tailed Duck. So, not a lifer for me but for several other birders in the area it was because I reported it to a local birders group. It was a lifer for me though as far as actually getting decent images of it!

      Hunting season is long over so I am not concerned about the bird being shot.

  4. eileen March 3, 2012 at 4:53 am

    Wonderful shots.

  5. Dan Huber March 3, 2012 at 4:19 am

    Wonderful photos Mia

  6. Prairie Birder March 2, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    Lovely photos Mia. The first time I saw a Long-tailed Duck was in Toronto last year at a very far distance.

    • Mia McPherson March 3, 2012 at 6:01 am

      Thanks for your compliment on the images PrairieBirder. I hope that you will get to see Long-tailed Ducks closer up. They are lovely.

  7. Laurence Butler March 2, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    Very nice! That Duck looks a little stubby in the tail department, but she’s grow into it.

    • Mia McPherson March 2, 2012 at 7:02 pm

      Laurence, the duck will grow a long tail, this is a first year bird. I’m going to keep an eye out for a mature Long-tailed Duck, who knows, when one shows up maybe another one will! Thanks for your comment.

  8. judy watson March 2, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    I should have stopped to see what they were looking at! I did see a whiteish bird but was thinking it was a seagull.

    • Mia McPherson March 2, 2012 at 6:27 pm

      Judy, I hope that when you went back to the island this evening you were able to see the Long-tailed Duck!

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