The winner of today’s photography challenge is the turkey vulture.
When I was on my morning walk this weekend, I noticed that a large raptor sitting at the top of a dead tree limb. After I got closer, I realized it was actually a turkey vulture and not a hawk or an eagle.
This is the first time that I’ve seen a turkey vulture sitting in a tree, for a prolong period of time—I’ve seen them soaring in the sky, I’ve seen them perched on fence posts (near a kill), but I’ve rarely seen them just sitting.
This one was just chilling out—though I think it was waiting on other vultures to show up so that there would be several of them soaring through the air. Now that I think about it—while you might see one vulture soaring through the sky, there is usually another one or two off in the distance also soaring, they’re usually in groups of two or three, seldom are they alone.
It’s also nice to know that it is the turkey vulture that I’ve been seeing and not the black vulture. When they’re overhead (and by usually thirty to forty feet above you minimum), it’s hard to tell the color of the head (and that is the only way to tell the two vultures apart).
This one also seems to be wondering why I’m staring up at it, like I’ve never seen a turkey vulture up close before. Now when I go on my morning walks, I’m going to have to look towards this particular tree to see if there are any vultures just sitting around and chilling in the morning sun.
The winner of today’s photography challenge is the turkey vulture. While I was on my walk this weekend, there were quite a few that were soaring overhead and I actually managed to get a couple of decent pictures of at least two of them.
Since turkey vultures are scavengers, they can be seen
soaring overhead in the suburbs, out in the country over farm fields and even
around different areas such as landfills, construction site and even trash
heaps. They’re early risers, they will roost together in large numbers on
telephone poles, towers, fence posts, and dead trees. I might have to try
taking a walk near dusk and see if I can spot any roosting around the
neighborhood (as we live close enough to some farm land) in the evenings.
One weird fact for the turkey vulture—it can be found in part of the state (Oklahoma) year-round, and then other part of the state only during the spring-fall months (basically the breeding season). We’re in the part of the state that only sees them from spring to fall.
Another interesting little fact—they try to ensure that their
nests are isolated and away from any potential human contact. They will nest in
caves, abandoned bird nests (namely hawks and herons), and even abandoned
buildings. They also only have partial nests (they never actually finish
building the nest).
While they currently aren’t listed as an endangered species
they do face some threats from humans that impact their numbers. At times they
do fall victim to lead poisoning (due to eating carcasses of animals that were
shot by hunters but got away from the hunters), also victim to poisoning (if
they eat the carcass of an animal that had been poisoned by humans). Also they
have been trapped and killed due to the misconception that they spread disease
by eating rotting meat.
So today’s photos all have a central theme–birds flying overhead or flying away. It is a challenge to get a good picture of a bird as they’re taking off or landing on the water or a songbird flying between different bushes. Though this is one challenge I’m willing to accept–getting a good picture of a bird in flight (or possibly taking off or landing).
Since cormorants haven’t left town yet, I’ve managed to get several pictures of them in flight, taking off, and landing in the water. Now that I’ve seen where they roost, I know better than to make the assumption that any large low-swimming bird is automatically a loon (which is what I did when I first saw them on the water).
So here was one that was flying low over the lake, but around the little island in the middle of the lake. This is where they had found a tree to roost in (the geese were “nice” to share their island with the migrating cormorants).
I have enough pictures of the great blue heron that I’m probably going to dedicated an photography page to this beautiful animal. Since there are at least four herons at the lake, I have pictures of them hunting, standing, and in flight (as I’ve accidentally rousted them from their stations several times during my walks).
So the shovelers decided that they didn’t want their photos to be taken (or they decided to leave before the storms really came through).
One bird that this back for a good six months or so–is the turkey vulture. With living close to the lake, we usually always see at least one of them circling in the sky daily. Hopefully this summer I can get a closer picture of one.
One goal is to see how many different birds I can get pictures of–both perching somewhere and then in flight. With the migration season upon us again–there are numerous different bird species coming through and I’m thinking that a cool afternoon is the perfect time to walk around the lake again and explore to see what birds and other critters I can get pictures of.