Juvenile Northern Harrier in flight

Juvenile Northern Harrier in flightJuvenile Northern Harrier in flight – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 500, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited or set up

Northern Harriers are year round residents in Utah and I am encouraged by the numbers of them I have seen lately at Farmington Bay WMA. Last winter at Farmington Bay I saw far fewer Northern Harriers than any year I have photographed there which in part may have been caused by a vole population crash the year before plus we had a very harsh winter then too which took a toll on the raptors and owls that make the marshes at Farmington Bay their home.

The survival rate among young raptors is poor because only about 20% make it to their first year due to inexperience at hunting. They either need to learn to hunt and catch prey with consistency or they will die.

I hope this juvenile Northern Harrier survives. They are fascinating to watch as they course over the marshes while hunting with their buoyant flight and quick dives into the vegetation when they locate prey. This juvenile Northern Harrier in flight in particular and another juvenile harrier had just dive-bombed a Rough-legged Hawk that was tucked into a tree. The Roughie wasn’t bothered much by them though and I captured this frame as the harriers flew away. I truly enjoy watching these birds.

On another note, it might snow here tomorrow which excites me because I love photographing raptors in the winter!

Life is good.



  1. Utahbooklover November 16, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    Beautiful image Mia. Yes, the pressures of natural selection are great and determine which genes are passed on, as Darwin (and Wallace) observed well over a hundred years ago now.

  2. CJ Oakley November 12, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    What an amazing shot Mia…detail is incredible.

  3. Jolanta November 12, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Awesome bird! Excellent photo 🙂

  4. Elephant's Child November 12, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    And yes, I too hope he is a survivor. And a breeder…

  5. Lois Bryan November 12, 2014 at 7:00 am

    Soo magnificent … one of those images of yours that makes me want to spread my own wings and go for a spin up in the blue, too!!!!! Tweeted!!

    • Ian Holland November 12, 2014 at 7:52 pm

      I’ve only seen a few here and that was before I started carrying a camera. Great shot. I didn’t know the survival rate was so low! :-{

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