I always joke that I don’t photograph “little birds” because they are boring. That isn’t entirely true. While I may not focus on them regularly, when the opportunity is there I certainly will snap pics of them. They just require more patience than I have most times. 😉 Some, like hummingbirds, are a real challenge while the American white pelican is kind of goofy looking but just beautiful.
“Hey, Joe! Joe! Look at this!”
A bit of turkey vulture flashing going on from a couple of weeks ago. For some reason, Joe wasn’t too keen to check out what Dave had to offer and ignored him. 🙂
In truth, the turkey vulture was simply warming up. It is a fun display to watch as they do this every morning, stretching and soaking in the sun. Once warmed up, the committee of vultures will head off to hunt, usually in a group.
Groups of turkey vultures actually have a few names and which one you use depends on what they are doing. “Committee” usually refers to a group of them resting in a single location. Such was the case with these two as they and another dozen or so were on a tall, high-tension power pole. When they are flying as a group, they will be called a “kettle.” Lastly, the term “wake” is also used to refer to a group of them, usually when feeding on a corpse. That certainly seems appropriate.
Turkey vulture performs a high-altitude flyby
I seem to have some sort of odd fascination with these “ugly” birds. When I see them, I just can’t help but do my best to make the time to get pics of them.
A couple weeks ago, we spotted a bunch hanging out in Estes Park but, as we were needing to get home, I couldn’t stop. This past weekend, I headed back up to Rocky Mountain National Park and made sure to allow time to visit with these guys if they were around – and indeed they were.
A dozen of them were sunning themselves while perched on a high-tension power pole in town. After snapping bunches of pics of them posing, they decided it was time to head out to hunt and I got some pretty cool flybys, including these two images.
Yeah, I know turkey vultures won’t win any beauty contests, but I think they are neat. They can soar as well as any large bird and, perhaps most importantly, they perform a vital role as nature’s garbage collectors. 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. In cleaning up the dead, they help to prevent the spread of disease from the carcasses.
Turkey vulture stakes out the high ground
Perhaps there is no more fitting place for these birds to hang out than a spot called “the Badlands.”
While lush, green prairie is right next door, the rockiest areas of Badlands National Park can seem somewhat desolate, dry and otherworldly. They certainly do not seem particularly hospitable.
In those environs, an animal that lives almost exclusively on carrion could probably do quite well for themselves so I wasn’t surprised to see a lot of turkey vultures when I was there.
Most of the time they kept their distance but this one seemed to have found a nice spot to watch for its next meal. Sitting high on a rocky outcropping, it proudly surveyed the ground below, ready to make a meal of some poor, unsuspecting creature that had met its demise.
While turkey vultures may not win any beauty contests, they serve a vital role in the ecosystem as one of nature’s garbage collectors, helping to prevent the spread of disease from the carcasses they devour.
If Monday were a form of wildlife, it might be this creature
After a Monday like I had, I kind of feel like all that is left is for the turkey vultures to arrive and pick my bones clean. 😀 Hopefully your day was better.
As for this cool bird coming head on, this image was taken this past weekend. I haven’t seen too many turkey vultures this year so having a half dozen circle overhead was pretty exciting – even if a bit ominous. This one did land nearby in a some tall grass and pick at a carcass of something for a while but I never could get a clear view.
While they might not have the most handsome of faces, as one of Mother Nature’s garbage men, they perform a vital role for the ecosystem, helping to prevent the spread of disease from carcasses. That is fine by me – as long as it isn’t my carcass. 😉
Turkey vulture circles overhead
No, I’m not dead and I am far from ready to have my bones picked over by these guys. Nevertheless, this particular turkey vulture seemed to anxious to have me as a meal as it circled overhead multiple times. 😉
Taken a couple months ago at North Sterling State Park, Colorado, there were a lot of these cool birds hanging out, taking advantage of dead carp on the shoreline.
You will often spot 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.
Their role of garbage man helps to prevent the spread of disease from the carcasses. They may be ugly but they perform as critical function in the #ecosystem.
Turkey vulture stages a flyby
Maybe not pretty in the face but still a way cool bird! I have kind of a strange fascination with these guys so when I get to photograph them, I get kind of excited.
When camped on Colorado’s northeastern plains last week, I had an absolutely prime opportunity. More than 20 of them had staked out a spot by a lake as their early morning roost, one which thanks to having access to a boat I could easily get to.
Two mornings I spent a good bit of time photographing them taking 400+ photos of them each day. They put on a nice show for me with tons of flybys, many at close range, including this one.
They are amazing flyers, able to soar without flapping their wings for the longest time and that six-foot wingspan is simply impressive. They feed on carrion, usually rabbits and prairie dogs, and are said to be able to smell the dead animals up to a mile away.
At this spot, they were taking advantage of a die off of carp, dining on the carcasses on the shore. Their role as Mother Nature’s garbage man prevents the spread of disease from the carcasses.
Turkey vulture prepares to fly
This cool bird wasn’t too sure what to make of the guy with the big camera creeping toward him.
It was still a bit early in the morning and turkey vultures aren’t usually in too big of a rush to take to the skies, preferring to wait until it warms up. Three times this one raised its wings, thinking about departing, but eventually decided I was harmless and settled down.
A lot of these have been seen in recent days along the Colorado Front Range as they begin their migration south toward warmer environs for the winter.
The adult turkey vulture seemed less than impressed with the show the juvenile was putting on. 😉
A fun shot of these cool birds taken in Estes Park, Colorado last weekend. A dozen turkey vultures were hanging out on the power poles that enter town from the east. The mid-morning light was harsh but at least they gave me some cool poses.
Certainly these birds won’t win any beauty contests but I think they are way cool and, as the garbage men of nature, they perform a vital function in the ecosystem.
Turkey Vulture performs a flyby against clear, blue skies
These raptors are so darned fascinating to me. Yes, their faces are perhaps less than appealing but I just find them cool as heck.
They are amazing flyers, able to soar without flapping their wings for the longest time and that six foot wingspan is simply impressive. They feed on carrion, usually rabbits and prairie dogs, and are said to be able to smell the dead animals up to a mile away. Their role as Mother Nature’s garbage man prevents the spread of disease from the carcasses.