Saturday, September 5, 2009

International Vulture Awareness Day, 2009

Today is International Vulture Awareness Day. Turkey Vultures, Cathartes aura, are not endangered or threatened - in fact they are listed here as common - and so it's fairly easy in desert areas of the intermountain west to become aware of them. One often sees one to several vultures soaring overhead or hanging around roads nibbling at their latest meal. They haven't always been one of my favorite birds, maybe because they are so common, but they are rather magnificent, with a full wingspan wider than I am tall, and a striking black-and-white underwing pattern. They also feature in many western novels and movies.

My most recent encounter with a Turkey Vulture is described below:
As I was driving along a particularly wet and marshy part of Clover Creek a little east of Caliente, NV, the other day, I was keeping my eyes open for a Great Blue Heron that I had seen early the previous morning. Much to my surprise, a huge bird lifted off from the bushes to my right, and flew right in front of my truck. I assumed it was the heron, and tried almost in vain to get a picture of it. My sole non-fail attempt is shown above.
A minute later this large Turkey Vulture was soaring overhead, and a review of my photos showed that the first bird was the same vulture, and not a heron.

More on Turkey Vultures here at JournOwl.
Blog for Vultures at IAVD09.


Kelly said... that Turkey Vulture in flight photo!! Wonderful post...

Silver Fox said...

Thanks, Kelly!

gwendolen said...

Great shot of the vulture in flight. Yeah, their size sure is impressive.

Amanda@Lady Scientist said...

The photo is beautiful. I've never really thought of vultures as majestic or even nice looking. Mostly I associate them with roadkill. But that picture really made me think of them differently.

Silver Fox said...

This bird seemed really huge to me when it came off the ground in the nearby bushes, possibly lifting off from a meal. I was expecting a heron, maybe that's why it seemed so large.

I had never thought of them as either majestic or pretty until someone else pointed that out in another picture.