Feathered its best!

posted by Jerry Liguori at
on Friday, January 17, 2014 

I'd like to feature photographers I appreciate every now and then on my blog. So, I wanted to share these photos by Ron Dudley ('click' to enlarge). By the way, he has too many to choose from! I love Ron's photos (and Ron the man), especially his raptors…and after all this is a raptor site mostly. Ron has amazing photos of lots of wildlife otherwise that can be seen at:

My favorite out of this bunch is the Bald Eagle feeding on the wing. I did a blog post a few years ago about this behavior on the Utahbirders blog. Its not uncommon in areas with high concentrations of raptors to see them eating on the wing. It's much safer than getting blindsided on the ground by another raptor trying to steal its food. However, my photos documenting this behavior are not nearly as spectacular as this one! I gotta say, all the photos are beautiful, but the Great Horned Owl perched and the Rough-legged Hawk preening are a close second for me. And by the way, any jackass that feels the need to tell me they are the best bird photographer in North America -- take a look at Ron's and Mia McPherson's photos!

As Shyloh Robinson would say (and I steal as my own now), "enjoy your enjoys"...

 American Kestrel
 Bald Eagle
 Barn Owl
 Burrowing Owl
 Ferruginous Hawk
 Great Horned Owl
 Northern Harriers
 Prairie Falcon
 Red-tailed Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk
Anonymous Bryce Robinson said...

I've never seen photos like Ron's. I look forward to every post of his, which are daily. If you are a raptor lover, following his blog is a must! Thanks for sharing Jerry.

January 17, 2014 at 3:10 PM  
Anonymous Hatem Gomaa said...

WOW! Those are absolutely incredible! The lighting, the focus, the background and depth of field, the colors, but most importantly to me is the moment that's captured.
Well done.

January 17, 2014 at 4:59 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Ron, several people emailed me privately and said thanks for turning them on to Ron's photos.

January 17, 2014 at 7:10 PM  
Anonymous Ron Dudley said...

I hope they enjoy them, Jerry. And thanks very much for featuring my images.

January 17, 2014 at 7:29 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Thanks for letting me, you get more traffic than my site, I just like your photos and several other people's so I enjoy posting them.

January 17, 2014 at 7:55 PM  
Blogger Dick Ashford said...

Since I live on the west coast, I enjoy Ron's photos as part of my morning wakeup. In addition, I look forward to his almost-daily "science lesson". A great way to start the day!

January 17, 2014 at 11:27 PM  
Anonymous Hatem Gomaa said...

Jerry, your comment about the bald eagle "eating on the fly" made me think of a similar instance where this happens also, we discussed this before if you remember. It reminds me of the red tails in Texas and Arizona who know exactly when the Mexican free-tail bats are ready to come out of their caves in swarms after their long winter hibernation and the RTs pick them out in the air with their talons and eat them while flying as well. It made me think in this case, while it's not a large concentration of predators in the area that creates the need to eat on the wing but rather the concentration of prey that they need to eat quickly to be able to catch and feed on as many bats as possible before the bats are gone. I'm not sure if the Swainson's hawks "which hunt the bats as well" do the same thing but my guess is they probably do, but the theory is pretty neat when you see the similarity of behavior in both cases but for opposite reasons. Is that a fair assessment in your opinion?

January 18, 2014 at 8:25 AM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Hatem -- Sounds good to me!

January 18, 2014 at 8:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. Really nice images.

I have a question about the last one where the Rough-Legged Hawk is pulling on its feather. I have seen (and photographed) an American Kestrel doing that same thing. It pulled and pulled on its feather so hard many times. What was it doing? Was it trying to pull it out? I have seen other images on Flickr of kestrels in that same pose. I know birds preen intensively. But, this pulling is more than just cleaning. Any ideas?

Ken Andrews

January 18, 2014 at 1:16 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

I think they are pretty agressive about having their feathers "zipped up", and it takes a bit of time. I don't think I've ever seen a bird pull their feathers out, but I won't say it hasn't happened just cause I've never seen it...that's for sure

January 18, 2014 at 3:22 PM  
Anonymous Ron Dudley said...

Anonymous, When they're doing this they're "re-zipping" the hooks between the individual barbules on their feathers. When they get pulled apart they can also be re-zipped, somewhat like Velcro. So they take individual feathers between their mandibles and pull along their length which does the job. That's a big part of preening. I photographed this RLH for 13 minutes while it was preening and it was very deliberate about the process - for example it worked over each tail feather in succession.

January 18, 2014 at 3:55 PM  
Anonymous Jim Zipp said...

Hey Jerry, Always great nuggets of information and photos here and Ron's photo's are incredible.

January 20, 2014 at 4:03 AM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Hi Jim -- I'm sure Ron will be happy to hear that from another great photographer! Keep checking in!

January 20, 2014 at 7:06 AM  

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