Gull Predation of Blackbird Chick

This article features a collection of images that document gull predation of a blackbird chick. Acts of predation in nature can be difficult to view. Readers who find this this type of subject matter distasteful or disturbing may choose to stop reading this posting.

During a recent visit to Hendrie Valley I observed something that I had never seen before, gull predation of a blackbird chick. I noticed a gull flying with something in its mouth, but did not realize what it was until some blackbirds began attacking the gull.

The gull had to change its physical position on the ground a number of times to escape the red winged blackbirds that were pursuing it. Eventually the blackbirds resigned themselves to the fate of their chick and went back to their nest. I suspect they may have had remaining chicks to protect from other marauders.

Gulls, like many other birds, often swallow their prey whole after dispatching it. Typically this is done by a bird rotating its prey so it can be swallowed head first.

The photographs featured in this article appear in the order in which I captured them. This gull predation episode took about 5 minutes from the first image to the last.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 200 mm, efov 400 mm, f/5.6, -0.3 step, 1/1600, ISO-250, subject distance 4.8 metres
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 270 mm, efov 540 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-320, subject distance 17.7 metres
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-640, subject distance 26.4 metres
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 212 mm, efov 424 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-250, subject distance 5.6 metres
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-250, subject distance 11.8 metres
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-320, subject distance 8.1 metres
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-320, subject distance 8.1 metres
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-250, subject distance 8.1 metres
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-250, subject distance 8.1 metres
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-200, subject distance 8.2 metres
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-200, subject distance 8.1 metres
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-320, subject distance 8.1 metres
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-160, subject distance 8.3 metres
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-160, subject distance 8.3 metres

Photographing events in nature are not always pleasant to witness, as shown by this example of gull predation. They are, however, an integral part of the cycle of life.

Technical Note

Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Image were produced from RAW files using my standard process. Photographs were cropped to taste, then resized for web use.

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