American Birding Podcast



Playing with Food

I've had a few nice opportunities lately to photograph waterbirds, particularly enjoying the chance to catch some interesting feeding behaviors.  I hope you enjoy these pics as well!




In September I rigged up my kayak so I could use my telephoto from a tripod.  Besides some gratifying grebe shots I was also able to photograph this Great Blue Heron devouring American Gizzard Shad.  While its long bill is great for catching fish, to swallow them it has to get them lined up to its liking and then deftly flip them back into its mouth.  Boulder County, Colorado, September 2011.



The San Diego River estuary offered lots of photo opps of feeding waterbirds last October, like this plunging Snowy Egret.  I like pics like this that include splashing water!  San Diego County, California, October 2011.



Here are 3 consecutive frames of a juvenile Little Blue Heron stitched together to show the bird executing the fish flip technique.  Each of the frames is only 1/5 of a second apart- anticipation & burst shooting are keys to capturing this kind of action.  San Diego County, California, October 2011.  (Click this and any other image to enlarge!)


Greater Yellowlegs work prey up to their mouths with a rapid succession of bill snaps.  San Diego County, California, October 2011.



This Western Willet was grapling with a small crab that was clinging to its bill but as expected the shorebird prevailed.  San Diego County, California, October 2011.




It seemed as though this Western Gull bit off more than it could chew when it grabbed a hefty clam at low tide in the San Diego River estuary.  The bird had a neat trick up its sleeve, though, repeatedly dropping the clam onto a bordering rocky jetty to crack it open.  San Diego County, California, October 2011.