Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Birds Are Busting Out all Over: Turkey Vultures
I was on my way to a friend's house in Vail last Wednesday to photograph a nesting pair of Harris Hawks when I spotted this Turkey Vulture on a utility pole alongside the road. I pulled my car over and climbed the embankment to capture this photo. Then, to my surprise, a second Turkey Vulture was on the pole across the street! That one did not like me pointing my camera with that big, long lens at it. It took off soaring low over the desert around me. After a few swoops and many photos on my part I was able to get this series of shots as it came back in for a landing. Birds ARE busting out all over. Today it is Turkey Vultures, tomorrow Harris Hawks!
These birds are no joke. With a wingspan of 67" these birds are masters of the thermals soaring over the deserts, mountains and prairies. In the summer their range is across most of the lower 48 states and parts of western Canada. I have seen them in Connecticut, Colorado, Maine and Utah as well as here in Arizona. In the winter they migrate south with more birds lingering farther north on the east coast. I saw my first Turkey Vulture of the year here in Sycamore Canyon at the beginning of March. Now I am seeing them on a daily basis. I took these shots with my Nikon D80 set in Sports Mode. To capture the photos of the birds in flight I followed their flight with my lens in a process called "Panning." The trick is to time your motion to the flight of the bird and snap away. If you are skilled or lucky you can get the bird in focus with a blurred background. (All photos are copyrighted by Kathiesbirds.)
Come back for Skywatch Friday: Harris Hawks!
Dedicated to Lynne of Hasty Brook whose love of Turkey Vultures knows no bounds!