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Posts Tagged ‘vulture’

It’s tough to get a Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) to smile. This was the best we could manage during our portrait session on Thursday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Turkey Vulture

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I wouldn’t exactly say that this Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) was handsome, but you have to admit that it has an impressive wingspan display. I spotted this vulture earlier this week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Its spread wing position reminded me of a cormorant, which pens its wings like that to dry them out. I have no idea why the vulture felt the need to do so, but it held its wings open for an extended period of time.turkey vulture

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Several years ago, I received some advice that I continue to follow to this day. I was told that if a vulture is circling overhead, as this one was doing earlier this week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, make sure you move from time to time.

When I first spotted this vulture, I was a little confused. It looked like a Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura), but the bird lacked the distinctive red head that I am used to seeing on a Turkey Vulture. After doing a little research I learned that juvenile Turkey Vultures have an ashy-gray head that transitions to red as they mature.

juvenile Turkey Vulture

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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What kind of bird would be a perfect match for a gloomy, fog-filled day? I might suggest that this Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) that I spotted this past weekend at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge would fit the bill admirably.

There was something shadowy, mysterious, and a little creepy about this large dark bird as it perched low in a tree and looked right at me through the fog. I felt a little shiver as I looked up at the vulture, but maybe it was just reaction to the cool temperature.

Black Vulture

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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From a distance, the large bird perched on a broken-off tree looked majestic and I assumed that it was a hawk or an eagle. Zooming in with my telephoto lens, I realized that it was “only” a Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura).  It got me thinking about the fact that vultures have a bad reputation—many people are creeped out by the way that vultures circle overhead and eat dead things. For them, the words “majestic” and “vulture” just don’t go together. If you suspend all preconceived notions and examine the bird in this photo (or watch a vulture effortlessly soaring overhead), perhaps you too will find a bit of majesty there.

Turkey Vulture

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It was dark and overcast yesterday morning at Huntley Meadows Park and became more eerie when a Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) started to circle lower and lower around me. Eventually it landed on the broken tip of a nearby tree.

After closing its wings initially, the vulture suddenly opened them wide and left them open for an extended period of time, perhaps to let them dry—it had been raining earlier in the morning. The wing position reminded me of the Double-crested Cormorants that I occasionally see with wings extended to dry them after an underwater dive.

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The early morning light was soft and beautiful, allowing me to capture these images of a young Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) on Saturday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I am not sure I have ever seen a vulture look so handsome (and maybe even a little cute in the second photo).

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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