You may have noticed that we’ve developed a slight obsession with Phoo Chan lately. He’s the photographer behind that incredible NatGeo published shot of a crow riding on the back of an Eagle, and the creative behind some of the most incredible birding shots we’ve seen on 500px.

His latest upload yet again blew us away, so we thought we’d ask him about it. “Basically,” Phoo tells us, “that picture is a sequence of a male harrier passing its catch in mid-air to one of its offspring during the nesting season that I captured last week. We usually refer this as food exchange.”

Here’s the composite he uploaded, which puts together the entire food exchange sequence:

Northern Harrier Food Exchange by Phoo (mallardg500) Chan on

According to Phoo, “a male Northern Harrier (aka the Marsh Hawk) is known to have an average of 3 female mates at any one time. Some even have up to 5.” And as the sole food provider for its mates and offspring, the dude stays VERY busy.

“Imagine if he has 3 active nesting and each one has 3 chicks—that’s 9 chicks with 3 extra mouthes to feed on top of that,” writes Phoo. “Perhaps this is why the female is the only one that would incubate their eggs and later take care of the offspring.”

This ritual—which actually starts during the nesting season with the male bringing food to his mates and passing it to them in mid-air—also acts as training for the chick, so they’re ready to be on their own when they’ve fledged.

Here’s a closer (slightly blurrier) shot of a harrier passing a kill to one of his mates. This one Phoo uploaded a few weeks ago:

The Flying Squirrel by Phoo (mallardg500) Chan on

We also asked Phoo what it takes to capture a sequence like this, whether it’s between Northern Harriers or Peregrine Falcons, White-tailed Kites, or American Kestrels (all of which do this). As with most birding photography, Phoo tells us it’s part preparation, and part luck:

Capturing good images of this act requires multiple attempts and a lot of luck since the field covers a wide area so when the event takes place from afar you would have to wait for the next one and hopefully it would be within a good range of your lens reach. This image was taken at Coyote Hills Regional Park where every photographer respects the birds personal space as not to violate it for the sake of good images.

To see more of Phoo’s amazing photography, check out this post he wrote for us over the weekend and then give him a follow on 500px.