Vulture Sunrise Barn Gathering

My typical route to work takes me by a large weathered barn, relatively close to the road.  Early this week, as I approached the barn in my car, I noticed a large group of Turkey Vultures on top of the barn.  I pulled off, turned around and came back to hopefully get some shots without scaring them off.  I moved slowly, while keeping an eye out for traffic on the busy road.

Barn and Vulture Composition 1
Barn and Vulture Composition 1

During my processing workflow, I noticed some birds had red heads and others were black.  At first I thought this was a gender distinction; while researching the Turkey Vulture, I learned the black head vultures are actually the Black Vulture.  The Turkey Vulture has a strong sense of smell, which helps them locate decaying animal flesh – carrion.  The Black Vulture has no sense of smell and therefore usually hangs close to the Turkey Vulture.

Barn and Vulture Composition 2
Barn and Vulture Composition 2

In these photos you can see several birds with spread-wing postures.  This serves to dry wings and for thermoregulation.  At night these birds maintain a lower body temperature – morning wing spreading helps raise their body temperature by absorbing solar energy.  As in this case, they typically face the back of their wings to the rising sun.

Barn and Vulture Composition 3
Barn and Vulture Composition 3

With a maximum wingspan of up to 6 ft (183 cm), vultures are quite beautiful in flight. But, not so much up-close, on the ground.  The vulture serves a vital environmental role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem.  They not only eat and clear decaying animal matter, but they’re digestive systems also kill harmful bacteria associated with carrion.

Thanks for taking time to visit my blog.  For the best viewing experience, click on an image to view a high resolution version from my portfolio site.

Cheers,

C. S.

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