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Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vultures dine on Prairie Dog carrion

One for #TBT going to May 2015. While out and about on a photo drive, my son and I spotted six of these birds circling and heading west. The Turkey Vultures disappeared from our sight but we ended up finding them again dining on Prairie Dog carrion in a field. We spent an hour watching them as they took turns picking apart their meal.

The case could certainly be made that these are some of the ugliest birds in the world – my son certainly thinks so. While certainly not pretty, I tend to think they are kind of neat. These birds have left the area for the winter but I would expect to start seeing them again in a couple of months.

Turkey Vultures in Longmont, Colorado, dine on carrion. (© Tony’s Takes)

Turkey Vultures in Longmont, Colorado, dine on carrion. (© Tony’s Takes)

Turkey Vulture soars at high altitude

One for #TBT going back to May 21 in Estes Park, Colorado. While sitting on the shore of Lake Estes, this “handsome” bird came flying over.

I haven’t had near as much as luck with getting pictures of these as in year’s past. They aren’t pretty but they are some of the most amazing flyers, able to soar for the longest time without a hint of flapping their wings. I find them to be quite fascinating and despite their faces, photogenic in their own way. 😉

A Turkey Vulture flies overhead in Estes Park, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Turkey Vulture flies overhead in Estes Park, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Turkey Vulture makes an overhead pass

This picture was taken back in September but I fully expect to see these again very soon as they return for the season. Their faces won’t win any beauty pageants but they are amazing adept at soaring in the sky.

You will often see Turkey Vultures high in the sky in large groups – appropriately called a ‘wake’ – looking for their next meal. They feed on carrion they find lying around dead like rabbits, prairie dogs and such and are believed to be able to smell the dead animals up to a mile away.

A Turkey Vulture circles overhead in Longmont, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Turkey Vulture circles overhead in Longmont, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Perhaps the last thing you will see?

Okay, kind of morbid but… I snapped this image by accident back in September and forgot that I wanted to share it. I was observing a bunch of vultures that had congregated and were circling around. As I tracked one with my camera, I wasn’t paying attention to realize it was leading me right into the sun. When I look at the image I imagine me laying on some dry, desert floor with no water and seeing the buzzards circling. Weird I know but it kind of cracks me up.

A Turkey Vulture is silhouetted by the sun as it flies. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Turkey Vulture is silhouetted by the sun as it flies. (© Tony’s Takes)

Turkey Vultures warm up and take flight

If there is a Rodney Dangerfield of raptors, you could argue the Turkey Vulture is it. With a face only a mother could love, they are not particularly good looking and don’t get much respect in comparison to other birds.

However I find them fascinating and overall just pretty darned cool. With a massive six foot wingspan they are very large and oftentimes mistaken for eagles or hawks when seen soaring.

You will often see them high in the sky in large groups – appropriately called a ‘wake’ – looking for their next meal. They feed on carrion they find lying around dead like rabbits, prairie dogs and such and are believed to be able to smell the dead animals up to a mile away.

These vultures were part of a large group hanging out at Golden Ponds in Longmont, Colorado a couple of months ago. It was a lot of fun watching them as they put on a show.

A Turkey Vulture spreads its wings to warm up in Longmont, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Turkey Vulture spreads its wings to warm up in Longmont, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Turkey Vulture skulks in a tree. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Turkey Vulture skulks in a tree. (© Tony’s Takes)

Turkey Vulture in flight over Golden Ponds in Longmont, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Turkey Vulture in flight over Golden Ponds in Longmont, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Young and maybe ugly

Young and maybe ugly but juvenile Turkey Vulture still cool.  These scavengers with their featherless heads could certainly hold their own in a contest for world’s ugliest bird.  Nevertheless, if you set aside the face, they are pretty darned neat.

You will often see them soaring high in the sky in large groups – appropriately called a ‘wake’ – looking for their next meal.  They feed on carrion they find lying around dead like rabbits, prairie dogs and such and are believed to be able to smell the dead animals up to a mile away.

This young one was with about 20 other vultures hanging out at a pond.  Juveniles look much like adults except they have a gray head instead of the red of an older bird.  In one picture you notice this bird appears to be making some noise.  However, interestingly enough, turkey vultures aren’t capable of making true sounds – they only hiss.

A juvenile Turkey Vulture perches on a branch in Longmont, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A juvenile Turkey Vulture perches on a branch in Longmont, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A juvenile Turkey Vulture comes in for a landing in Longmont, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A juvenile Turkey Vulture comes in for a landing in Longmont, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A juvenile Turkey Vulture flies overhead in Longmont, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A juvenile Turkey Vulture flies overhead in Longmont, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A juvenile Turkey Vulture perches on a branch in Longmont, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A juvenile Turkey Vulture perches on a branch in Longmont, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

It’s International Vulture Appreciation Day!

It’s International Vulture Appreciation Day!  Yes, that really is a ‘day.’

These scavengers, while not particularly pretty, are essential to the Earth’s ecosystem.  They only eat carrion helping to perform the role of garbage man and preventing the spread of disease from carcasses.

Here a Turkey Vulture circles overhead in Longmont, Colorado back in July.  I think it thought I and my friend were going to be a meal.  ;-)?

A Turkey Vulture flies overhead in Longmont, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Turkey Vulture flies overhead in Longmont, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Maybe not pretty birds, but beautiful fliers

Turkey Vultures, or ‘buzzards’ as some may call them, probably wouldn’t win any bird beauty contests. Their featherless red head and white bill are unique and perhaps only a face a mother could love.

However, when they take to the skies, they soar with the greatest of ease and their sheer size will oftentimes have folks mistake them for eagles or large hawks.

This past weekend I came across 10 or so of these circling some fields, most likely looking for a meal. Having so many of these large birds in one area circling is not unusual but it is a pretty cool sight to see. The kettle was kind enough to oblige with a number of flyovers allowing me to get some nice in-flight shots.

Taken in Longmont, Colorado.

A Turkey Vulture in flight. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Turkey Vulture in flight. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Turkey Vulture in flight. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Turkey Vulture in flight. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Turkey Vulture in flight. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Turkey Vulture in flight. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Turkey Vulture in flight. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Turkey Vulture in flight. (© Tony’s Takes)

Two Turkey Vultures perform a flyby. While their faces may not be pretty, these large birds are beautiful in flight. (© Tony’s Takes)

Two Turkey Vultures perform a flyby. While their faces may not be pretty, these large birds are beautiful in flight. (© Tony’s Takes)

Osprey on alert as Turkey Vultures fly over

Watching the behavior of animals is always fascinating and yesterday I saw some interesting stuff. My son and I were observing an Osprey nest and taking pictures of them when some large birds appeared in the sky and began circling.

The male Osprey became alerted to the presence of these interlopers and began circling his mate and their nest (presumably with some hatchlings). It was obvious he did not like the fact these other birds were nearby, even though they never really came close.

The other birds were Turkey Vultures, some of which we tracked down later and got pictures of (see my post from earlier today). Given that they normally feed on carrion, they didn’t really present a threat to the Osprey nest but the parental protective instinct of the Osprey was on full display.

Here you see the male Osprey on one of its rounds as the vultures pass behind.

A male Osprey circles its nest to ward off intruding Turkey Vultures. (© Tony’s Takes)

A male Osprey circles its nest to ward off intruding Turkey Vultures. (© Tony’s Takes)

Turkey Vultures dine on carrion

While out and about on a photo drive yesterday, my son and I spotted six of these birds circling and heading west. The Turkey Vultures disappeared from our sight but we ended up finding them again dining on Prairie Dog carrion in a field.

We spent an hour watching them as they took turns picking apart their meal. The case could certainly be made that these are some of the ugliest birds in the world – my son certainly thinks so. While certainly not pretty, I tend to think they are kind of neat.

These large birds can have wingspans approaching six feet across and when flying high in the sky are often mistaken for hawks or eagles. Taken in Longmont, Colorado.

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A Turkey Vulture comes in for a landing.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A Turkey Vulture comes in for a landing. (© Tony’s Takes)