Prairie Falcon with Prey in Box Elder County, Utah (Graphic)

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Adult Prairie Falcon with prey in Box Elder CountyAdult Prairie Falcon with prey in Box Elder County – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/3200, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

I drove up to northern Utah yesterday morning because the forecast for that area looked better than the forecast for the area where I live and I’m glad I went. The sun was shining, I had blue skies with a few thin clouds over head and although it was chilly at 22°F it wasn’t -22 like it was the last time I was up there so it felt comfortable.

I saw Bald and Golden Eagles, Northern Harriers, Red-tailed Hawks, American Kestrels, Chukars, Ring-necked Pheasants, Rough-legged Hawks, Common Ravens, Horned Larks, Western Meadowlarks, Black-billed Magpies, some shrikes that I suspect were Northern Shrikes, Canada Geese flying in V-formations, ducks that were too far away to ID and two Prairie Falcons.

One of the Prairie Falcons was so skittish it flew off when I was at least one football field away from it but the second one was far more cooperative.

The Prairie Falcon I photographed had prey and that may be why it was less skittish, I have no idea what the prey is but it is larger than a vole and had fur not feathers.

Prairie Falcon adult with prey in winterPrairie Falcon adult with prey in winter – Nikon D500, f9, 1/640, ISO 250, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

The area behind the Prairie Falcon in my photos is a grassy rangeland that was covered in snow. I was parked on the shoulder of a paved two lane road across from the falcon using my Jeep as a mobile blind.

Perched Prairie Falcon with preyPerched Prairie Falcon with prey – Nikon D500, f9, 1/500, ISO 250, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

The Prairie Falcon seemed content to just watch me as I photographed it, it did not eat the prey it had grasped in it talons. Perhaps it was just enjoying the warmth of the sun, it felt great to me after so many dreary days in a row.

I noticed that the falcon’s crop bulged a bit and it has some blood on its bill which tells me it had been eating it prey before I came across it.

Prairie Falcon with prey on a wooden postPrairie Falcon with prey on a wooden post – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/2500, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

The falcon perched on this fence post for two minutes while I photographed it before a pickup hauling an empty trailer rumbled by and chased it away. This Prairie Falcon was one of my best birds of the morning yesterday, after the falcon flew off I turned my Jeep towards home with a smile on my face.

Life is good.

Mia

12 Comments

  1. Humming bird lover January 15, 2017 at 8:56 am

    Hi again! Do you have river Otters in Utah? Maybe that is what it caught/ love mom

  2. Humming bird lover January 15, 2017 at 8:54 am

    HI! sweetie! In photo3 and 4 I see a little face looks like a cat I hate to say! Or it could be a Wessel? Do have them in Utah or a mink? Have a great day love mom

  3. Elephant's Child January 14, 2017 at 3:58 pm

    Smiling here too. Thank you.
    And, like Laura, rabbit was what sprang to mind.

  4. Randal Sokolik January 14, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    beautiful raptor! great captures

  5. April Olson January 14, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    Beautiful photos. When I look at both your and Ron’s photos it often brings back fond memories of birds I have know through rehab and education experience. I had a long time love affair with a education Prairie Falcon. I miss those deep dark eyes.

  6. Rosemary Harris January 14, 2017 at 11:33 am

    Lovely images, always great to get a rewarding photo shoot.

  7. John sherrill January 14, 2017 at 9:50 am

    Great to see your new winter raptor pictures. Your f-stops and ISO’s suggest a great turn in the weather. Hope it continues. John

  8. Don January 14, 2017 at 8:42 am

    Nature in the raw is seldom mild. Awesome photos again!

  9. Patty Chadwick January 14, 2017 at 8:35 am

    What a wonderful trip with so many wonderful sightings!!! I’m really jealous!!! I especially love all the different textures and harmonious colors in these images…feathers, fur, weathered wood, soft snowy background, hard, soft…the carcass looks like rabbit to me , too…..

  10. Laura Culley January 14, 2017 at 7:40 am

    Terrific images! My guess for the prey (GUESS!) is the remainder of a rabbit or at least that’s what it looks like to me. Prairies are often described (among falconers) as the redtail hawk of the longwing group in that they’ll take whatever is available whether it be furred, feathered or scaled. It could be a leftover from someone else’s catch, too. But that’s just a WAG, not even scientific 😉

  11. Esther January 14, 2017 at 6:32 am

    Wonderful photos!

  12. Steven Kessel January 14, 2017 at 6:24 am

    You should be smiling. Great images!

Comments are closed.