Sunday, January 8, 2012

Black Vulture~up close and personal

Quite an exciting event a few days ago in that I got to get close to a Black Vulture and it didn't seem to mind having its photo taken.

The vulture population has always been strong in the neighborhood I live in. This area sits high on a hill top overlooking the Tennessee River. The topographic features attract vultures year round due to the thermal currents that form naturally. Vultures enjoy riding these thermal currents and can soar effortlessly for hours. The above photo was taken a few weeks ago in the early morning hours when I followed them to a clearing where they were already in action.

The trees directly across the street from my house have been a favored roosting area as well. Hundreds of them will settle down for the night in the tall trees there. Occasionally, I'll walk over to take photos of them or to simply observe their behavior. They are not vocal birds, but do make grunts and hissing sounds. The loudest sounds that come from them are when they are spooks and whole flocks leave the trees~I suppose its the motion of air beneath their long wings.

Lately, I've noticed that they are starting to come closer to my house. A few days ago I noticed a few sitting in tall trees behind my house and along with making themselves comfortable on my neighbor's roof.

I had stepped outside to take care of something or other when I noticed a Black Vulture sitting on my neighbor's back deck. What a great opportunity this would be, I thought...I'll just sneak quietly alongside their house and snap off a shot or two...all the while thinking that the bird will probably leave once it hears me approaching. I got lucky and it didn't.

So, I thought I might try sneaking around the other side of the house to their back yard and get some more shots. The bird did not seem to mind at all as I slowly crept up the stairs to the deck and stood about 5 feet from it for these photos. Its a much handsomer bird than I would have imagined~~never seeing them this close before, only through illustrations and photos in field guilds and such. Its feathers were clean and glossy and somewhat fluffy on its head. I enjoyed my time with it and left quietly leaving it alone to enjoy the sunny afternoon. It was a wonderful experience, I'll have to keep my eye out for it again...perhaps it would like additional photos taken of it.

I've got a set on my flickr photostream for more vulture photos I've taken over the years:


Victoria said...

Those are incredible shots, especially the last one! Lucky you! We have a lot of turkey vultures here, but even so I've never seen more than 6 or 10 at a time... nothing like your flock! :) They are neat creatures, aren't they?

livingglassart said...

Thanks so much! I think they are really cool and feel lucky that there are so many here. I could watch them for hours as they soar overhead. Some of my neighbors don't seem to think so highly of them--their loss I suppose.