This short article features a selection of six consecutive images of a kingbird harassing a raptor in mid-air. An experienced associate has advised that the raptor is an immature Cooper’s Hawk and the aggressor is an Eastern Kingbird (thanks Glen). All photographs were captured handheld with an E-M1X using Pro Capture L in combination with Bird Recognition AI Subject Tracking.
Often these types of mid-air altercations are viewed from significant distances and happen so quickly that it can be very challenging to photograph the action.
The raptor illustrated above appeared over the ponds at Hendrie Valley. I was in the process of capturing a few photographs of it when a group of small birds, including an Eastern Kingbird with some Barn Swallows, decided that it needed some encouragement to move out of the area.
A series of aggressive movements played out overhead. I kept panning with the raptor using Pro Capture L in combination with Bird Recognition AI Subject Tracking… and waited for the right moment to fully depress my shutter release.
My goal was to get the small birds in close to the raptor. My attention was focused on keeping the raptor properly framed in my composition. I knew that with Pro Capture L if my shutter release timing was appropriate I’d get my images… so I didn’t have to worry about the positions of the aggressor birds. Then, when a couple of small birds momentarily flitted into my composition I hit my shutter release.
I was using a continuous auto-focus frame rate of 18 frames-per-second. This mid-air altercation was over in a split second. The following six consecutive images were captured in a total of 1/3 of a second.
Unfortunately the Eastern Kingbird is not in sharp focus due to the distances between the birds and the available depth-of-field… as my E-M1X was focused on the raptor. Nevertheless I really like the drama in these images. and the documented action.
Note; Click on images to enlarge.
I’ve witnessed Red Winged Blackbirds mobbing hawks and eagles in the past. This is the first time that I’ve seen an Eastern Kingbird cooperating with some Barn Swallows harassing a raptor in mid-air.
This short image run is another practical illustration that helps explain why I prefer using Pro Capture L in combination with Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking when photographing birds in free flight. This combination of computation photography technologies makes capturing this type of action sequence a practical reality.
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. I shot at 18 frames per second using continuous auto focus, with a single, small auto-focus point engaged with Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. This is the 1,301 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.
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