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Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture
Photo Information
Copyright: Alan Kolnik (Alan_Kolnik) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 236 W: 38 N: 343] (2616)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2005-03-09
Categories: Birds
Camera: Nikon D70, Sigma 70-300mm APO
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/2000 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2005-03-10 9:48
Viewed: 4121
Points: 24
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Turkey Vulture
Cathartes aura

I was very fortunate to get this shot of a turkey vulture. Normally, they hover very high in the sky, and are difficult to photograph. I noticed this one swooping in towards me, and tracked it on manual focus as my telephoto starting hunting due to the small size it initially presented against the sky.

What may look like jaggies in the rear wing feathers are not - after careful inspection, I conclude the feathers at the rear of the wing either overlap in a special way or have a special shape that makes them look as seen here. I have lightened the bird a little to show the different dark areas more clearly in the body and wings. USM applied to sharpen the image.
Turkey Vulture
Cathartes aura
Most of North America.
Dry, open country, ranch lands and along roadsides where carrion is common.
The Turkey Vulture is one of North America's largest birds of prey. It reaches a length of 32 inches with a wing span of 6 feet. Its overall color is brown-black with a featherless, red head, white bill and yellow feet among mature adults. Immature birds have a darker face. Although usually silent, the bird will occasionally emit a soft hiss or groan.
In flight, the Turkey Vulture rocks from side to side, rarely flapping its wings which are held at a V-angle called a dihedral. Silver-gray flight feathers look lighter than the black lining feathers of the underwing. Its long tail extends beyond its legs and feet in flight.
Vultures are best known for their practice of feeding on dead animal carcasses, but will occasionally attack young and helpless animals as well. They obtain much of their water from the moisture in carrion, and their powerful kidneys enable them to excrete less water when expelling waste products.
Turkey vultures, like other carrion birds, are protected from disease associated with decaying animals by a very sophisticated immune system. Their unfeathered "bald" head is easy to keep clean and is characteristic of vultures and condors throughout the world.
Mating occurs in all deserts except the Mojave. One to three blotched eggs are laid in cliff hollows, logs or among rocks on the ground; no nest is built. Both parents participate in incubation of the eggs for up to a month. Newly hatched young are fed with regurgitated food for the first few days and fly from the nest within 10 weeks.
Unlike most birds, vultures have a keen sense of smell. The Turkey Vulture's olfactory sense is estimated to be 3 times that of the smaller Black Vulture, which is also found in the North American Deserts. The California Condor, now almost extinct, is the third member of the Cathartidae Family, referred to as the American Vultures. Vultures are sometimes mistakenly called buzzards, the British name for buteos -- hawks of the Buteo genus.

Source: Desert USA


Okan, sAner, Luc, RII, shirgold has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To sAner: DetailAlan_Kolnik 2 03-11 03:41
To Djozz: Thanks!Alan_Kolnik 1 03-10 15:27
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • Djozz Silver Note Writer [C: 5 W: 0 N: 13] (360)
  • [2005-03-10 11:32]
  • [+]

I'm allways amazed when people take such nice clean shots of birds in flight. Well done.

  • Great 
  • Okan Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 104 W: 57 N: 68] (518)
  • [2005-03-11 1:55]

Dear Alan, I think this is a perfect shot for a wild turkey vulture! Clear, sharp and detailed enough. Colours and BG are wonderful. TFS.

  • Great 
  • sAner Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1455 W: 74 N: 1426] (4750)
  • [2005-03-11 3:37]
  • [+]

A very nice capture! Too bad you lost a lot of detail on the bird, probably because of the superfast shuttertime or the backlight. You did very good nevertheless.

  • Great 
  • jossim Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1538 W: 5 N: 2240] (12636)
  • [2005-03-11 21:38]

Félicitation pour cette prise nature. On distincte très bien tout les détails du plumage. Un belle éclairage et de bonnes couleurs.


Great capture in-flight, nice and sharp.

  • Great 
  • vlad (26)
  • [2005-03-18 0:35]

Nice shot! Well donne!

  • Great 
  • Luc Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1835 W: 301 N: 4287] (14767)
  • [2005-04-03 22:21]

Personal assessment of the photo: great.
Great visual impact.
Aptness of the photo for the site: excellent.
Personal assessment of the note: complete.
Thanks again Alan.

Nice work here Alan. Wonderful POV with excellent details. Nice work. Thanks

  • Great 
  • optic Gold Star Critiquer [C: 322 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2005-05-21 7:11]

Very nice capture, colours & details are great!
Well done Alan!


Fantastic shot of a majestic bird! I am waiting for my chance to get a flying shot like this. I only had misses so far. Hopefully one day. TFS!

  • Great 
  • RII Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 481 W: 0 N: 895] (2862)
  • [2006-06-20 16:30]

Hi Alan.
Excellent capture, very nice details colors and composition, good sharpness and contrast, is a great photo, good note.

Thanks and I wait more photos , comments , tips and critiques.


Hi Alan,
Great in-flight capture.
Good result from a challenging situation - black bird against a bright sky.
TFS - Shir

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