|Willet expelling a pellet|
|Yellow-crowned Night Heron right after the pellet was expelled|
|Yellow-crowned walking over the pellet|
|Yellow-crowned Night Heron pellet|
|Northern Harrier about to expel a pellet|
|The Northern Harrier working hard at expelling a pellet and slips on perch|
|Northern Harrier slipping off the perch while trying to expel a pellet|
|Northern Harrier getting its balance back|
|Northern Harrier gets its balance back with the pellet still in the bill|
|Northern Harrier watching the expelled pellet fall to the ground|
As I recall the harrier stayed on the perch for several minutes before it flew away.
|Loggerhead Shrike trying to expel a pellet|
|Pellet near the throat|
|Pellet exiting the throat|
|Expelled pellet falling to the ground|
The Loggerhead Shrike seemed to need a bit of time to recover from expelling the pellet unlike the heron which walked away right afterwards.
|Swainson's Hawk juvenile about to expel a pellet|
My most recent opportunity to photograph a bird expelling a pellet was last month in southwestern Montana in Beaverhead County. I knew where two juvenile Swainson's Hawk were hanging out along with the two adults and went to see if they were around. We found all four of them in their normal location but at least one of them was on the right side of the road for the light because on previous trips the birds were badly back lit.
I saw a lump on the back of the neck of the juvie Swainson's and realized the bird was going to expel a pellet. Not all birds get this lump but I have noticed it on other hawks often before a pellet is expelled.
I was further away from the bird than I would have liked so these images are not the best of quality. Hopefully if there is a next time I will be closer than this to the action, it sure made me wish I had a 500mm lens with a 1.4x TC.
|Working hard to get the pellet up|
|Part of the pellet showing|
|The pellet emerges|
|This juvenile hacked up two pellets|
|The second pellet falling to the ground|
|A victory pose?|
|One of the expelled pellets|
Next time you see a bird repeatedly opening its bill while perched or see a lump on the neck of a raptor you might want to stick around to see if a pellet will be expelled. It isn't pretty but it is downright fascinating!