Predator and Prey – The Never Ending Conflict

A good lesson about photography is to always be prepared to take photos at any time. While hiking, my DSLR camera is switched on (the Nikon battery will last many hours in this mode) with a good telephoto lens, and usually set at 1000 ISO and Mode P. This insures I can quickly take quality photos of birds, butterflies, deer, etc. Many times there are only a few seconds of opportunity.

I was reminded of this lesson again while hiking near some large trees. A murder of crows were squawking more than usual nearby.

Soon I noticed violent movement in the deep layer of leaves under one of the trees. Slowly moving forward it became obvious that a Cooper’s hawk had got a flicker (a large woodpecker more than a foot in length). By “got” I mean that he had a set of talons in the prey bird, was attempting to keep it from escaping, and all the while was using his beak to finish the job and begin the meal.

After taking a long sequence of photos from roughly 15 feet away (the flicker eventually died), I walked away. If I had attempted to get closer, frightening away the hawk, the crows would have taken over.

I always attempt to photograph wildlife in its natural state. It’s much more difficult than photography at a zoo or wildlife park, but much more rewarding.

Cooper's Hawk subduing a Flicker

Cooper’s Hawk subduing a Flicker

The Flicker is not going easily

The Flicker is not going easily

The battle continues

The battle continues

Good view of the Cooper's Hawk

Good view of the Cooper’s Hawk

Time to begin the meal

Time to begin the meal

Even predators have to stay on the alert

Even predators have to stay on the alert

Licking his chops

Licking his chops

I'm finally spotted (I left shortly afterward)

I’m finally spotted (I left shortly afterward)





Categories: Portland Area HikesTags: , , ,


  1. WOW!!! How lucky you were to capture this, John.

    • Thanks Debbie. You probably have been to the spot. It was one of the large trees near the Vietnam Memorial and close to the Wildwood Trail. Sometimes watching Mother Nature in action is pretty sobering.

  2. great experience and photos!!

  3. John;

    Those were magnificent shots! Thanks for the great camera work in your blog. I always open it as soon as I can after it arrives.

    John DesCamp
    1255 NW 9th #516
    Portland OR 97209

  4. WOW –

    Ed Lyon
    Community Director, FCA Ventura County
    P.O. Box 6033, Ventura, CA 93006

    See our Vision

    FCA UCLA Sports Camp

    For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” Mathew 6:21
    Please Donate:

  5. I am curious as to the lens you used to shoot this fantastic photo?

    • I have a Nikon D7000 body and a Nikon VR 70-300 telephoto lens. Both have been updated. Now there are a D7100 and a VRII 70-300 lens. For taking shots in the outdoors and wilderness areas, it makes for a very good combo.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: