Thursday, November 27, 2014

Crops & Clips: Vultures

My weekly potpourri gathered from the archives features... vultures, perhaps the least appreciated, yet one of the most important (and globally threatened) groups of birds. 

The New World vultures and condors are distantly related to those of the Old World. The latter do not share their amazing sense of smell and are considered more closely related to the hawks, buzzards and eagles. Here in the USA, two species are doing very well, while the California Condor teeters on the brink of extinction. 


Turkey Vulture portrait:

Turkey Vulture 2-20101114

To get this close to a Black Vulture I had to endure the stench:

Black Vulture portrait  20140907

The legs of  vultures are often painted white with their own urine, helping them control their body temperature, which drops about 6 degrees (F) during the night. They also assume postures such as extending their necks and spreading their wings to either cool off or soak the sun's rays. 

Black Vultures 20110411

Here the Turkey Vulture dominates some garbage that had been discarded by careless picnickers.

Black Vulture with painted legs 20120221

Black Vultures gathering...

Black Vultures 20140907

...waiting turns at the dinner table...


...and enjoying fresh possum.

Possum for dinner - got hot sauce? 20100401

Young Bald Eagles (one is to the lower left in this photo), not yet adept at hunting for fresh prey, may capitalize on the vultures' skill at locating carrion:

Bald Eagle and Turkey Vulture 20130531

Here in Florida, Short-tailed Hawks may use their resemblance to vultures to hide in a flock and surprise the smaller birds that make up much of their prey (Pembroke Pines, FL, February 9, 2012):

Short-tailed Hawk 20120209

In the western USA, Zone-tailed Hawks similarly take advantage of their vulture-like appearance (Grand Canyon, AZ, June 19, 2013):

Zone-tailed Hawk 3-20130619

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

and to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,



Turkey Vulture warming up in the morning sun:

Turkey Vulture 20101129

Black Vultures at the Undertaker's Convention:

Black Vultures 20101129

Linking to GOOD FENCES by Tex (Theresa). 



Our two vulture species have distinctive flight profiles. The Turkey Vulture appears almost headless and the undersides of all its flight feathers appear silvery.

Turkey Vulture 20111230

Only the five "finger" feathers of the smaller Black Vulture show this trait, and its legs extend slightly beyond its shorter tail.

Black Vulture 20120409

Ghosts in the gloaming:

Black Vultures in fog 2-20140224

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy



On a sunny day, you can almost see me with my camera:

Black Vulture eye 2-20141117



International Vulture Awareness Day

"The first Saturday in September has been set aside as a day to consider the ecological importance of a bird of prey that is otherwise mostly dismissed with a shudder. With some species under severe threat of extinction, International Vulture Awareness Day aims to educate a reluctant public in the critical role of this creature to the well-being of the environment. With vultures traditionally being perceived as representing death and decay, conservationists involved in preserving their numbers have faced an uphill battle in fund-raising efforts and in making theirs a more sympathetic cause. Hopefully, the joint effort of South Africa’s Birds of Prey Programme and England’s Hawk Conservancy Trust in establishing an international day of vulture awareness will change public attitudes. The key role of the vulture in signalling the presence of a carcass to other scavengers prevents contamination by pathogens and helps keep nature free of disease."

Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display


  1. Cool captures of the Vultures.. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  2. What an ugly post ;)
    Sorry, but they sure are ugly as hell :)
    But thanks for those wonderful pictures,
    I never saw them from that close.
    And I learned a bit more about them :))
    And I like the warm up fence ;)

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. i think these birds are very, very cool. we see a lot of both types in texas. now, the urine on the legs i was not aware of. yuck! :)

  4. Wow -what amazing shots.

  5. Hi Kenneth You have out done yourself in this post. the shots are all marvellous. Great close ups of the Turkey Vultures and it is great to see them sitting with their wings out. You can just about see you in the eye shot in the last photo

  6. I would never have suspected they are globally threatened given the numbers I see in Texas. They do perform a very important function and I hope they are able to recover.

  7. Jen, the two USA species are not in any danger and as you say, they are abundant. The California Condor and several African and Asian species are being killed by poison set out, often by poachers, to kill large animals including elephants. Very sad.

  8. they are a needed bird even if they are not well liked. Thanks for sharing your wonderful images.

  9. Turkey vultures are certainly not the most pretty bird in the world but they are also fascinating. It was neat to see them sitting on the fence like that.

  10. Very amazing, fascinating pics of these wonderful birds, what a fine post!

  11. I don't think I would like to get that close that I can see myself in their eyes.

  12. boy those vultures are ugly....but you got beautiful pictures of them...especially the Ghosts in the Gloaming

  13. Such a fantastic reflection...I've never seen this kind of birds...They are spectacular...

    Great photos...

  14. Good Morning, Ken! I am stopping back just to say thank you for linking up with my critter party. Have a happy weekend!

  15. Admire your vulture shots.

  16. Fantastic series of shots of vultures.

  17. Wow....ALL of these images are simply INCREDIBLE!!! That eye...I think it's following my every move. I must have the odor its seeking. I best go shower or be attacked.

    GREAT post Ken.

  18. Great shots of these interesting birds. I can't say they're beautiful though - at least not up close.

  19. Magnificent photography of the turkey vultures! Wow!

    Happy Weekend to you,
    artmusedog and carol

  20. Those vultures you captured are really magnificent. People are not kean on those birds, but their size make them quite impressive.

  21. Great pics!

    I'm sure those vultures look attractive to each other...

  22. Such majestic birds!
    The photos are really nice.
    The stench of vultures is something I didn't know about.
    Thank you for sharing your joy with all of us.
    Peace :)


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