Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Birds Are Busting Out all Over: Turkey Vultures

Turkey Vulture on a pole 3-25-09

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!
Enjoy!
























Happy April Fool's Day!

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!

17 comments:

Roy said...

Great series of images Kathie.
Not the prettiest bird in the World and I am glad you kept moving. {:).

Arija said...

Kathie, the in flight shots are just wonderful as well as all that flapping of wings. Isn't it great how blogging improves our photography?

Deborah Godin said...

They've arrived back here, too -I got so excited! One of my fave birds (on my blog post today too). These are terrific shots!!

Lynne said...

WOW Kathie!! These are the best Turkey Vulture pix I've seen yet.

Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou.

Now I just have to convince everyone that TV's are the most magnificent bird in the world!

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Amazing photos and thanks for leeting me know how you did this.Every little hint is helpful.
Blessings,Ruth

BirdingMaine said...

Absolutely awesome photos for a bird that hard to expose correctly!

Max said...

Great photos, our vultures just returned to Oregon, always a welcome sight!

Kathiesbirds said...

Roy, I think they were more afraid of me than I was of them. How amazing to see them up that close! I was hoping one wouldn't try to vent while I was there! That would have been YUK!

Arija, I think I am just lucky because I still don't know how to work all the controls on this thing. I have tried various settings but when it comes to birds it seem to be that the Sports Mode button on my camera gets me the best shots.

Deborah, so you and Lynne have something in common! I will be over to visit you very soon! Great minds think alike as they say!

Lynne, glad you liked them! I stopped to take these because of you. I was in a hurry to get to my friend's house to photograph her Harris Hawks. I was about 1/2 hour late, but she was gracious and didn't mind.

Ruth's photo, thanks for stopping by. Glad I could help.

Birding Maine, they are hard to expose correctly. I had the benefit of early morning light and they were on the west side of me. I did notice that it was hard to get the white tip of the beak properly exposed in contrast to that deep red head and those black feathers. The early morning sun sure brought out the brown tinge's to their feathers!

Max, thanks! I bet your vultures passed through here on their way there!

Shellmo said...

They are wonderfulb birds and you captured such great shots of them in flight!!

Kallen305 said...

FANTASTIC shots of one of my favorite birds! I have never been lucky enough to see one perched before. Great job!

Quiet Paths said...

I thought I'd left a comment here earlier; was thinking about this post a couple times this evening. I'm not that familiar with TV. These are great photos. Now, I will recognize one if I see it.

Gaelyn said...

Kathie, these shots are ALL wonderful! I want a camera with a big lens to do that.

I too saw the first vultures the beginning of March. We have a "Buzzard Bash" here.

Looking forward to the Harris Hawks.

Abe Lincoln said...

We had one yesterday that circled and flew over our house and by the time I got the camera and went outside it was too far away. One of these days I should catch it just right.

denapple said...

The last photo shows a very smug vulture. He knows he flies better than any other bird around!

Mary said...

Wonderful shots! I saw dozens of them Wednesday when we were in Illinois but didn't get any shots. They just seemed to be everywhere we went circling overhead.

Oz Girl said...

Wow, more incredible shots of these magnificent birds in flight. Truly awesome.

Celeste said...

Kathie you really are an exceptional photographer, the in flight shots are just stunning - thanks for sharing.