Category Archives: Raptor

Black Vultures, Dead Tree in Silhouette

The dike where I took¬†Black Vultures sitting in this tree takes a 90 degree turn which gave me a different vantage point for this post’s images. The sun was now behind the birds and it was very hazy.

Black Vultures in Dead Tree
Black Vultures in Dead Tree

The outline of the tree and birds is pretty interesting, as is the postion of the two Vultures seen here. The third Vulture is in that clump in the middle in the first image.

Black Vulture on Branch
Black Vulture on Branch

Black Vultures

It was morning, before 9am, so I was surprised to see these Black Vultures hunkered down in this dead tree. Perhaps they had been the early birds and already completed breakfast.

Black Vulture Laying on Branch
Black Vulture Laying on Branch

It was hot (82 F/ 28 C) and hazy, so resting was probably a good idea but some spot that was less exposed to the sun might have been a better choice.

Three Black Vultures in Dead Tree
Three Black Vultures in Dead Tree

This dead tree has lost a pretty good chunk since the last time I photographed birds here…¬†Wood Storks in a Dead Tree

Mississippi Kite Pair Feeding

I was watching a flock of Blue Jays and had followed one through my view finder into a tree. Wait! Those are not Blue Jays.

Mississippi Kite Pair Eating
Mississippi Kite Pair Eating and a Blue Jay

Much more interesting were these two Mississippi Kites consuming a meal. I had never witnessed this behavior so I continued to photograph even though my vantage point wasn’t great. Interestingly, the Kites weren’t concerned about the Blue Jay, who soon flew off.

You can see how large the Kites are compared to a Blue Jay in the first image.

Mississippi Kite Pair Eating
Mississippi Kite Pair Eating

Taking photographs up into a dense tree poses many challenges: leaves and twigs blocking the view, over exposed sky in the leaf gaps, and too much shade on the subject, to name a few.

Mississippi Kite Pair Eating
Mississippi Kite Pair Eating

I tried a couple of angles, working my way around some shrubbery on the ground.

Mississippi Kite Pair Eating
Mississippi Kite Pair Eating

I did determine from one image not shared here that the food was a small bird.

Mississippi Kite Pair Eating
Mississippi Kite Pair Eating

Up to now I had only seen Kites eat insects, snatched from the sky with their feet. In this last image one of the Kites was grooming and gave me a decent view of one foot.

Mississippi Kite Foot Up Scratching
Mississippi Kite Foot Up Scratching

Barred Owl

I was delighted to find this Barred Owl perched over the bamboo pond yesterday morning. Reports from many of my photographer friends have been that the Barred Owl Owlet was feeding himself and neither he nor the adults had been spotted recently.

Barred Owl
Barred Owl

I’m not sure if this is the chick from this year or one of the parents, or maybe a completely different owl. He did treat me to one swoop over the water then did some grooming.

Barred Owl Grooming
Barred Owl Grooming

I didn’t see him catch anything and he was content to look around.

Barred Owl
Barred Owl

Click on any image for a larger view.

Swallow-tailed Kite

With an unmistakable silhouette, the Swallow-tailed Kite is an amazingly skilled flyer. From Cornell’s All About Birds: “Rarely flapping their wings, they soar and make tight turns, rotating their tail to steer.”

These images are cropped quite a bit; I didn’t get any close ups, but if you enlarge the photos you can get a bit more detail.

Swallow-tailed Kite
Swallow-tailed Kite

Guaranteed to make your neck hurt they are very cool to watch.

Swallow-tailed Kite
Swallow-tailed Kite

While doing all this acrobatic flying they grab flying insects with their feet:

Swallow-tailed Kite
Swallow-tailed Kite

Then pass the prey to their beak:

Swallow-tailed Kite
Swallow-tailed Kite

On this day an approaching storm and boisterous clouds added to the drama of the scene.

Swallow-tailed Kite
Swallow-tailed Kite

Their territory and numbers have dwindled in the US, and are continuously threatened by habitat loss.

Barred Owl Portrait

This morning the male Barred Owl did land in a sunny spot over the pond while he was hunting and I was in a good spot. I didn’t know until later, but the female and owlet were in the trees behind me waiting for their breakfast.

Barred Owl Portrait
Barred Owl Portrait

Today was the first time I’d been to the swamp in a week due to the extreme heat we’ve been having. We went early and were home by noon. It was already 95 F (35 C).

Barred Owl in Bamboo

This stand of Bamboo is drooping over a small pond making a perch for a Barred Owl to watch the water for food. After much waiting he dropped down and snatched a crayfish, action I did not capture.

Barred Owl in Bamboo
Barred Owl in Bamboo – click image for larger view

When there is a little breeze these hollow Bamboo stalks make pleasing percussion sounds, and occasionally cause a concentrating photographer jump.