Flying Northern Harrier in a Post-defecation Pose

/, Box Elder County, Northern Harriers, Utah/Flying Northern Harrier in a Post-defecation Pose

Northern Harrier defecating in flightMale Northern Harrier defecating in flight – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

I’ve mentioned before that one of the behaviors about raptors that I pay attention to is them defecating while perched because it often means that the raptor is going to take flight.

Raptors and other birds don’t just defecate while perched though, they will also defecate while they are in flight which is why in my very popular article “So ya think ya want to be a bird photographer?” that:

When photographing birds flying directly over your head be sure to keep your mouth closed as you never know when they might decide to flush out their systems.

Now I have never had a bird defecate on me but I watched a Northern Mockingbird poop on my sister when we were young and found it quite funny. I know she didn’t think it was funny at all. Still, I am careful underneath of birds in flight for a reason. Especially big birds.

Yesterday while photographing birds and swatting blood sucking mosquitoes away from my skin I saw a male Northern Harrier coming my direction and got ready to take images of it in flight. It took me a bit to get ready between swatting a skeeter and turning my limiter back on before I could get my lens out the window so the harrier was quite close at that point.

So just as I focus on the on the bird he decides to defecate in flight and my image shows the Northern Harrier in a post-defecation pose. Not a great photo, the shadows under the bird aren’t wonderful but I like the direct, almost piercing, eye contact and how the harrier pulled its feet up close to its body. When I saw this image on my camera LCD I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.

At least the poop didn’t land on my head or worse, my lens.

Life is good. Life is better with a sense of humor.

Alright, I need to go get ready to feed swat the mosquitoes again.



  1. Elephant's Child May 4, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    And thank the lord that cows don’t fly…

  2. Beth Jochum May 4, 2016 at 8:19 am

    Beautiful to see a Northern Harrier up so close – thank you! I will count my blessings that I have not been pooped on….;)
    Thanks for the humor and great art, Mia.

  3. Patty Chadwick May 4, 2016 at 7:18 am

    A beautiful image…poop and all. I had a Grackle, Jack, who often seemed to know when I was dressed up to go somewhere and would choose that particular time to land on my shoulder and poop…never did ot any other time. I think he had separation anxiety problems. One time, I was late for an appointment, didn’t have time to change, wiped it off the best I could and took off…forgot to feed the meter, saw a cop writing out a ticket, whined that it had neen a horrible day. “Oh! God! First Jack poops on me, then I’m late and now I’ve got a ticket!”, I wailed. Curious, the cop wanted to know who Jack was. He could see the poop stain on my shoulder. “Lady, You’ve had enough trouble for the day. Forget the ticket, but don’t forget to feed the meter next time…and, if I were you, I’d get rid of that bird!”.

  4. Jerry Ellison May 4, 2016 at 7:06 am

    That’s one great shot Mia. I really like his posture in the air, the position of his legs, and I think the shadows add great contrast and he’s still very sharp…and those eyes! Even the poop doesn’t distract for me…course I’m kind of experienced with poop shots…lol Jer

  5. Jim Miller May 4, 2016 at 7:04 am

    I’ve actually been hit twice: once crossing a fallow cornfield, an unidentified bird hit a bull’s-eye in my ear. My brother was walking next to me, and found it hilarious. I didn’t.

    The second time was in California, when a seagull dropped a teacup-worth of bright-green poop in the middle of my back. I was on a first date with a very cute woman, walking on a beach. Not exactly romantic.

    Once again, great shots Mia.

  6. Roger Burnard May 4, 2016 at 6:44 am

    It’s no small accomplishment to find a flying bird in the viewfinder with that much “power” in your hands…
    and you did it beautifully. Well done Mia, well done. This indicates to me that you’ve had lots of practice
    “locking on” birds in flight… That is what I keep trying to impress on “pilgrims” that I’m getting started in
    nature photography. If you want to photograph birds in flight, you have to practice bringing up your camera,
    and finding that bird in the viewfinder. Do it on every bird that flies by, even if you have no intention of
    clicking the shutter, then when it really matters, you won’t be left standing there “with egg on your face”
    when something really good flies by… Another great image Mia. Yes, “live is good…” ;-)))

  7. Bob McPherson May 4, 2016 at 6:30 am

    Stunning image, Mia. His eye contact is especially attractive.

Comments are closed.