Adult Loggerhead Shrike perched on a boulder – Nikon D500, f6.3, 1/2500, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
Keen eyes, being in the right place at the right time and a touch of serendipity can make a morning out looking for birds to photograph go from good to great in no time at all. Yesterday while being chewed up by the no-see-ums on Antelope Island State Park and finding some birds to photograph the last birds I found and took images of were undoubtedly the ones I had the most fun with.
I spotted a Loggerhead Shrike on a boulder and took a few images of it then moved on to photograph a few dead California Gulls in the same area, they may have succumbed to botulism which isn’t uncommon at this time of the year. The gulls may have fed on some Eared Grebes that may have died from botulism. (Park personnel were notified of the deceased gulls).
While I was photographing one of those gulls I heard a distinct call, looked up and spotted a Loggerhead Shrike perched on a nearby rabbitbrush so we slowly moved in that direction.
Presumed male Loggerhead Shrike allofeeding the female – Nikon D500, f8, 1/2000, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
After I started photographing the lone Loggerhead Shrike on the rabbitbrush out of the corner of my left eye I caught sight of another shrike to the west perched on a sunflower stalk and I hoped that it would fly in to perch next to the one on the rabbitbrush.
The Loggerhead Shrike did fly in and brought prey to feed the presumed female, during the mating season the males will allofeed the females as part of their courtship behavior. I’ve never been able to photograph allofeeding behavior before so I was tickled pink. Sure, I could wish I could see both eyes of the shrikes, I could wish that I had a catch light in the bird’s eye that we can see but the images I got delighted me even though I didn’t.
Presumed female Loggerhead Shrike close up – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1250, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
The presumed male Loggerhead Shrike left and the presumed female flew down to the ground so close to where I sat in the “mobile blind” that all I could do was take head shots of her.
Loggerhead Shrike perched on Rabbitbrush in a breeze – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1600, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
Then she flew back to perch on top of another rabbitbrush and looked around while the breeze buffeted against her. I photographed her until she too flew off.
I’ve got bumps on my scalp from where the nasty no-see-ums bit me up but I have a smile on my face from photographing the interesting courtship behavior of these two Loggerhead Shrikes.
Life is good.