Don’t Chew with Your Mouth Open!

While kayaking the other day, I decided to photograph some Eastern Kingbirds (Tyrannus tyrannus) in flight, as they were swooping down to pick off insects in mid-air and as they would fly back to their perch that overlooked the water and American Lotus plants. There were a pair of Eastern Kingbirds in the immediate area and were extremely active; there are a lot of insects among the American Lotus plants and the kingbirds, as well as Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus), Blue-gray Gnatcatchers (Polioptila caerulea), and several other species, often search among the Lotus plants for insects.

The images in today’s post are another example of not knowing what you really got, until you get home and download them to the computer. These photos were cropped pretty drastically, so that you can see the action going on, so the images are not as sharp as I’d like them to be (also, they were handheld from the kayak). In this first image, one of the Eastern Kingbirds has just swooped down in an attempt to catch an insect on-the-fly, and is headed back towards his perch. You will notice that he has an insect hanging from his beak, although it’s identity is not possible with the bird flying away from me:

Eastern Kingbird with Dragonfly in mouth


The very next frame shows that the insect was a dragonfly; you can see the dragonfly in mid-air below the kingbird, as the kingbird opened it’s mouth and allowed the dragonfly to fall from it’s beak:

Eastern Kingbird dropping Dragonfly


Unfortunately, I stopped shooting the sequence too soon, so it is unknown if the kingbird recaptured the dragonfly or not. Although these images do not meet my high quality standards, it does give me the ambition to continue trying to capture the kingbirds while they hunt. Who knows, maybe I will get lucky and capture a sharp image of a kingbird just before he nabs an insect! That’s my lesson from this story …  don’t stop shooting too soon, and don’t give up trying to capture difficult situations. And the kingbird’s lesson? … don’t chew with your mouth open!

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