Behind The Shot: ‘Shoulder Check’ by Henrik Nilsson – North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Short eared owl in flight over a field fast shutter speed

Shoulder Check by Henrik Nilsson

Every year we are fortunate to have short eared owls travel through the region. For most wildlife photographers, owls are an irresistible subject. In this particular field, there were up to six owls flying about at any given time. Now, I'm not a big believer in chasing wildlife to get a shot, so how did this one come about?

Well, I knew where the owls were hunting so I set up in plain view near the edge of the field. Although the area was large, I didn't want to interfere with the owls looking for prey. Fortunately, most of the owls are used to human activity - there is a popular nature trail close by. After a while, several owls would fly close by and that's when the few seconds of action occurred. This particular bird did a shoulder check - perhaps to check for northern harriers that will often steal a kill from an owl. - Henrik Nisson

Equipment and settings: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, Canon EF 600mm f/4.0 L IS II - 1/1250th at f/4, ISO 1600

Nilsson's portfolio can be found at his website,, and at his portfolio page on


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