Adult Prairie Falcon with a full crop

/, Birds, Davis County, Prairie Falcons, Utah/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.



  1. Jim Hackley December 14, 2012 at 12:46 pm

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

    • Mia McPherson December 15, 2012 at 10:20 am

      Thanks Jim! Owls don’t have crops but many of the falcons & Buteos do.

  2. Humming Bird Lover December 9, 2012 at 10:06 am

    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!

    • Mia McPherson December 12, 2012 at 6:42 pm

      Thanks Mom! The bird is a great subject that I see often. I hope I will get loads more images of it this winter.

  3. Tammy Karr December 8, 2012 at 8:17 pm

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

  4. Carol Mattingly December 8, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    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

    • Mia McPherson December 12, 2012 at 6:40 pm

      Thank you Carol. the white on the breast does seem to glow.

  5. Debbie Miller @HooootOwl December 8, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    Beautifully detailed image, beautiful.

  6. Sherry in MT December 8, 2012 at 9:44 am

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

    • Mia McPherson December 12, 2012 at 6:39 pm

      Thanks Sherry, I spend a lot of time out with the birds!

  7. Prairie Birder December 8, 2012 at 9:12 am

    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.

    • Mia McPherson December 12, 2012 at 6:39 pm

      Thank you Charlotte.

  8. Syl Lobato December 8, 2012 at 8:26 am

    absolutely spectacular!!

  9. Dick Ashford December 8, 2012 at 8:26 am

    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….

    • Mia McPherson December 12, 2012 at 6:36 pm

      Thank you Dick, and thanks for visiting my blog too. This falcon does seem to be a very successful hunter.

  10. Linda Rockwell December 8, 2012 at 8:21 am

    Another lovely photo. The details are really exquisite!

    • Mia McPherson December 12, 2012 at 6:34 pm

      Thank you Linda, this is a very photogenic falcon.

  11. Rohrerbot December 8, 2012 at 6:20 am

    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!

    • Mia McPherson December 12, 2012 at 6:34 pm

      Thanks Chris, I am battling for light now too. The weather has been pretty dreary here with only short windows of blue skies.

  12. Earl December 8, 2012 at 5:59 am

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

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