Prairie Falcon with a Northern Shoveler as prey (Graphic)

Prairie Falcon fly by after attacking the Northern ShovelerPrairie Falcon fly by after attacking the Northern Shoveler

Earlier this morning I spotted a Prairie Falcon perched on a rock while on the Antelope Island Causeway, before we could get stopped and into position to photograph the falcon it took off over the water and attacked a Northern Shoveler. The duck was floundering in the water and the Prairie Falcon flew over and past it when I took this image.

Another flyby - Prairie FalconAnother flyby – Prairie Falcon

The Prairie Falcon made several passes up and down the shoreline, landing, then taking off again. The waves pushed the dying Northern Shoveler closer and closer to the shore.

Prairie Falcon with Northern Shoveler at the edge of the Great Salt LakePrairie Falcon with Northern Shoveler at the edge of the Great Salt Lake

When the duck reached the shoreline the falcon showed a bit of hesitation about going over to it and after a bit the bird flew over to the Shoveler which was still part way in the water.

Prairie Falcon tearing into the neck of the Northern ShovelerPrairie Falcon tearing into the neck of the Northern Shoveler

The Prairie Falcon tore into the neck of the duck at this point even while the waves rocked the duck and the falcon gently back and forth.

Prairie Falcon moving the Northern Shoveler from the water 1Falcon moving the Northern Shoveler from the water 1

The the falcon gripped the duck with its talons, I wasn’t sure if it was going to fly away with its prey or just bring it on to the shore.

Prairie Falcon moving the Northern Shoveler from the water 2Prairie Falcon moving the Northern Shoveler from the water 2

The Prairie Falcon seemed to struggle a bit with the weight of the Shoveler which can weigh up to 1.3 pounds (375 grams).

Prairie Falcon moving the Northern Shoveler from the water 3Falcon moving the Northern Shoveler from the water 3

The falcon used its wings and its free foot to move the duck.

Prairie Falcon moving the Northern Shoveler from the water 4Prairie Falcon moving the Northern Shoveler from the water 4

It seemed determined to move it away from the water.

Prairie Falcon moving the Northern Shoveler from the water 5Prairie Falcon moving the Northern Shoveler from the water 5

I really liked this pose and the great eye contact the raptor was giving me.

Prairie Falcon moving the Northern Shoveler from the water 6Prairie Falcon moving the Northern Shoveler from the water 6

The falcon continued to drag the duck to drier ground.

Prairie Falcon with Northern Shoveler on the shorePrairie Falcon with Northern Shoveler on the shore

It finally made it! The small waves were not reaching this section of the shoreline. I like how this shows the yellow feet, the dark tips of the talons and the yellow cere of this adult Prairie Falcon.

Prairie Falcon devouring the Northern ShovelerPrairie Falcon devouring the Northern Shoveler

The falcon wasted no time and tore into the breast of the Northern Shoveler and feathers were flying as it did. I wish that the bird had been closer but if it had been it might not have stuck around to eat its prey in front of us. The light began to fade as another cloud came in from the west, it was snowing (again) to the south and west.

Prairie Falcon with a pile of feathers from the Northern ShovelerPrairie Falcon with a pile of feathers from the Northern Shoveler

The falcon really chowed down on the Shoveler as we watched and photographed. When we left because the light was leaving us the handsome raptor was still there and still eating the duck.

I have to tell you it feels totally awesome to watch a Prairie Falcon attack, bring in and eat the prey it caught naturally. These birds are simply amazing.

All of these images were taken with my Nikon D300 and Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC lens resting on my noodle. The Prairie Falcon wasn’t baited, it supplied its own food.

Mia

(I took a boat load of images of this falcon, these were just a few that I liked)

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