If you looked at my blog post from April 2nd, you may recall that the last entry was a Phainopepla Nest at Agua Caliente on Roger Road. Above is a photo of mamma Phainopepla sitting on her nest late in the afternoon of Sunday March 31st, when the chick or chicks had already hatched. She has been most considerate and built the nest at eye level, albeit very shrewdly deep in the mesquite to make it both hard to see and difficult for predators to attack. And, yes there are pesky branches between my camera lens and the nest.
On Thursday April 4th I returned. I waited patiently, with a good view of one hatchling, below. The stage was set, all I needed was for the action to begin.
I spotted the mother on an adjacent tree branch above the nest. Reasoning that she was returning with food for her chick, I got focused on the nest and began to shoot. The image above was shot at 10:58 and 11 seconds, the next 5 images were all shot within one second, 10:58:12 (the camera does not record fractions of a second). The last image in this post was shot at 10:58:21, or in other words, this whole feeding sequence took 10 seconds. When was the last time you fed the kids in 10 seconds?
Above and below we see the mother feeding insects to her chick, with a pesky twig in the foreground.
She got that meal down quickly. All images shot with a Canon 7D Mk II, which can capture 10 frames/second, with some slowing for the time required to fill the camera buffer and move images to the card. So, 10 frames/second in bursts, with some slowing as the buffer fills.
Below, mom sizes up her offspring to be sure that everything went down OK.
But, there is more. Hack, hack, here comes a berry!
Insects provide protein for a growing bird, but the Phainopepla supplements what it captures on the wing along with berries, in this case an unripened mistletoe berry (Jeff Babson, personal communication). The berries are held in the mother's crop, an widened area of the esophagus which allows birds to get their food down fast, avoid predators, then eat at leisure, or in this case, feed the family.
Below, here comes dessert.
But wait, there's more!
Yahoo! A second scoop (so to speak)!
That's it! Entree and dessert (with two scoops) in 10 seconds. Really fast food!
("Yeah, I know you are still hungry, I'll bring more!")
That's all for now, more soon.
Henry Johnson, photographer and author of this site. For more detail, see About