Ever Been Mobbed by Loggerhead Shrike juveniles?

Cell phone shot of Loggerhead Shrike fledgling on pickup gateCell phone shot of Loggerhead Shrike fledgling on pickup gate

I have!

The past few times I have photographed the young Loggerhead Shrikes on Antelope Island they have perched on the tail gate of the pickup, walked on the roof, flown extremely close to the windows and our lenses, perched on the pickup mirrors and landed on perches so close that I feel my only option is to take portraits of them.

There has been as many as three of the fledglings on the pickup at once, every where you look… Loggerhead Shrikes!

The photo above is from my cell phone and it was cropped a lot, sorry for the poor image quality. There was another bird perched on the side of the pickup bed at the same time but I couldn’t fit them both in the frame.

Loggerhead Shrike juvenile on the pickup hoodLoggerhead Shrike juvenile on the pickup hood

This little Loggerhead Shrike was on the hood of the pickup looking for things to eat, I took this with my Nikon D200 with the 18-200mm VR lens attached through the windshield. I think that white thing in front of the shrike was the reflection of a piece of paper on the dash.

Loggerhead Shrike juvenile with plastic trashLoggerhead Shrike juvenile with plastic trash

I also saw this Loggerhead Shrike dive into a Sagebrush and it came back up with this clear piece of plastic that it tried to eat. I must say that seeing this made me angry because our trash can kill birds and wildlife and shouldn’t be left where they can get to it.

This bird was banded by researchers from the Great Salt Lake Institute (GSLI) at Westminster College who are studying the uptake of mercury from the Great Salt Lake in spiders and the birds that eat them.

Fledgling Loggerhead Shrike PortraitFledgling Loggerhead Shrike Portrait

These Loggerhead Shrikes have been fearless and gutsy, perching so close to the pick up that you can almost reach out and touch them. For this image I had to turn off my limiter just to be able to bring the shrike into focus and even at f9 I was able to see the focus drop off in areas but since I was at 1/100 I couldn’t go to f11 and have sufficient shutter speed.

Are you a bug?Are you a bug?

My depth of field was not deep enough for the head on pose of this image but I sure laughed when I viewed it on my monitor. The juvenile did seem to be curious about my lens, perhaps it saw its reflection in the glass or maybe it thought I was a giant bug.

Another fledgling Loggerhead Shrike portraitAnother fledgling Loggerhead Shrike portrait

This was the same shrike as shown in the two images above. It still amazes me that these young shrikes would repeatedly fly in to land so close. Looking into the bird’s eye I can see the sun rising over the hill behind me, the fluffy clouds and bits of blue sky. I can also see the separation of individual feathers, bits of left over food on its bill and those wonderful black rectal bristles that almost appear to be eyelashes.

Perched Loggerhead Shrike juvenilePerched Loggerhead Shrike juvenile

Yes, I was mobbed by Loggerhead Shrikes and I didn’t mind a bit because it afforded me the opportunity to observe and photograph them up close and it was fascinating! Being a bird photographer is great.


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Calling adult Loggerhead Shrike

Calling adult Loggerhead ShrikeCalling adult Loggerhead Shrike

Two days ago I posted a portrait of a juvenile Loggerhead Shrike that I had photographed on Antelope Island State Park, today I am posting an image of an adult Loggerhead Shrike taken a day after I photographed the young shrike.

This adult was busy trying to feed a passel of fledglings and took a short break on the top of a Sagebrush near the pickup. This time of the year the adults look a bit ragged, probably from all the hectic activity involved in taking care of their young although I am just guessing about that. At any rate during the fall and winter the adults do have a more “dapper” look than they do during the breeding season.


More Loggerhead Shrike images

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Juvenile Loggerhead Shrike close up

Juvenile Loggerhead Shrike close upJuvenile Loggerhead Shrike close up – Nikon D300, handheld, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 640, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

Yesterday a family of Loggerhead Shrikes kept us busy for a bit as the juveniles begged the adults to feed them and the adults were hunting food to bring to the rather noisy youngsters on Antelope Island State Park. One of the juveniles came very close to flying into the open windows of the pickup!

One of the young Loggerhead Shrikes flew onto a very close, elevated perch near the pickup and sat there for quite a few minutes so I decided to do some close up portrait images of it because I didn’t want the ugly, manmade perch to be visible in the frames. I had to turn off my limiter because the bird was so close in order to be able to focus on the young shrike.

It isn’t often I am this close to a Loggerhead Shrike!


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Today on On the Wing Photography

Today marks the publication of my 700th post for On The Wing Photography. Yesterday I passed the 250,000 views mark on my blog which has reached viewers in 170 countries.

I’m so grateful to all of my viewers, for the comments you make on my posts, about my images and for the information you share with me. It has been a learning experience for me. I love sharing my photos with you all and hope that some of the tips I give have been helpful. I’ve also gotten to meet so many wonderful people through this blog.

I’m not a writer, I am just someone who writes about what I photograph, about my subjects plus the stories behind the images.

Also yesterday a friend of mine, Rod Wellington finished a 256 day, 3800 mile, totally self-propelled journey. Rod kayaked from the uppermost source of the Missouri River at Brower’s Spring in Montana, down the Missouri River to its confluence with the Mississippi River where he headed south to the Gulf of Mexico. All of this was under his own power including some long portages.

This isn’t the only long journey that Rod has set his sights on as he plans the do the 7 longest river on 7 different Continents all of which will be totally self-propelled. He is an amazing man and inspiration! Check out his blog at Zero Emissions Expeditions.

I have some news I want to share with you all. Yesterday the new edition of the National Geographic Pocket Guides to Birds of North America; by Laura Erickson and Jonathan Alderfer,  hit the book store shelves.


The reason I am writing about this book is because it has two of my images in it!

Perched adult Loggerhead ShrikePerched adult Loggerhead Shrike

This Loggerhead Shrike image is on page 110.

Snowy EgretSnowy Egret

And this Snowy Egret is on page 39.

When I was a child I used to pour over the National Geographic Magazines that were a gift subscription from my grand parents and as I grew older I also purchased books published by National Geographic. Who knew that one day my photos would be in a book published by National Geographic? I am truly honored.

This book has 192 pages with 160 of them devoted the top species of birds found in North America with beautiful illustrations and images and it is packed with information about those birds. The small size of the book makes it perfect for tucking into a backpack or as a handy reference book for carrying along in a vehicle.


The National Geographic Pocket Guides to Birds of North Americabook is now for sale at book stores, on the National Geographic web site, Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

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Loggerhead Shrikes – They are MIA

Loggerhead Shrike portraitLoggerhead Shrike portrait – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 357mm, natural light

I’m used to seeing Loggerhead Shrikes all year round here in northern Utah but they have been MIA for quite some time. My last sighting was about two weeks ago of a single bird and before that it had been at least since late December or January since I saw one. Their absence might have been caused by the harsh winter we had combined with the heavy snow that would have reduced their opportunities to capture their prey which in the winter would consist of small rodents like voles.

Fluffed up Loggerhead ShrikeFluffed up Loggerhead Shrike – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2500, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

I’ve been waiting for them to show back up and to see them perched on top of Sagebrush or Rabbitbrush singing. It is difficult to think of them as a songbird because they act like tiny raptors at times but they are indeed songbirds. Take a listen here about halfway down the page.

I’ll be glad to see them again when they are no longer MIA.


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