Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Black vulture

with 29 comments

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October 8.

Cloudy morning.

Floral Park Dr.

A minute by car from home.

The arm of a street light.

Two black vultures.

Coragyps atratus.

Got home.

Grabbed camera bag.

Put on telephoto lens.

Drove right back.

Vultures still there.

Took pictures.

This is one.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 27, 2012 at 6:13 AM

29 Responses

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  1. Another amazing photo!

    mary mageau

    October 27, 2012 at 6:54 AM

  2. You’ve perfectly framed this one in a couple of ways. I could feel the sense of “Will he still be there? Will I make it in time?” in your words. What an interesting departure from your usual description.

    And that photo! My goodness. I’ve never felt a sense of connection to a vulture, but look at that expression, the look in his eye, the set of his beak. He’s clearly having some thoughts of his own. It’s a wonderful capture. I rather like the fellow!


    October 27, 2012 at 7:58 AM

    • Yes, it’s a change from my usual descriptions: thought I’d try something more casual, more staccato, more action-y, less wordy.

      If I can connect you to a vulture, then I’ve done my bit for nature. The telephoto lens makes it seem that I was a lot closer to the bird than I actually was. Even though it was well above me and therefore (to my mind, at least) safe, it eyed me with some wariness. Eventually first one of the two vultures, and soon the other, flew off. Then I did, too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 27, 2012 at 8:30 AM

  3. Man, that is one beautiful bird!!! Great shot.


    October 27, 2012 at 8:16 AM

    • Ah, beauty in the eye of the beholder, as they say. I wonder what all the light-colored flecks on the feathers were from.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 27, 2012 at 8:35 AM

  4. Wow, Steve! Great shot of ugly-beautiful – very powerful.


    October 27, 2012 at 9:09 AM

  5. Can one of the art students sculpt this bird for you?


    October 27, 2012 at 10:02 AM

  6. I love the term Composerinthegarden used – ugly-beautiful. That bird has a street tough quality. Aren’t you lucky to have that capture – and we are lucky you shared it. Thanks.


    October 27, 2012 at 10:04 AM

    • You’re welcome. This was the second time I’d seen two vultures on a light pole in that place (though I can’t be sure it was exactly the same pole). The first time was earlier this year, and I took pictures then, too, but never got around to posting any. I take a lot more photographs than I can show here, but this second incident prompted me to post something.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 27, 2012 at 10:37 AM

  7. You’ve described its look in your reply to Shoreacres as “wary,” and that was exactly my impression when I first viewed it. I am certain, that considering its eating habits, you are glad you were using the telephoto lens. Surely it reeks in close proximity!
    A great shot of an icky subject! ~Lynda


    October 27, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    • To “ugly-beautiful” we now add “icky.” You may well be right that the telephoto lens kept me from getting my sense of smell offended. I would have risked getting closer, smell or no smell, but there was no way to.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 27, 2012 at 10:41 AM

  8. Very observant.
    Everything else can wait.
    Timing was everything.
    Super photo.


    October 27, 2012 at 2:13 PM

  9. Oh So Cool – thanks for sharing!


    October 27, 2012 at 3:02 PM

  10. Aw, the wondrous Vulture. Despised by most but they are really amazing birds!

    The Jagged Man

    October 27, 2012 at 8:24 PM

    • I’m impressed when I see these large birds flap their wings and fly away. Somehow I don’t expect anything so heavy to be able to fly.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 27, 2012 at 8:33 PM

      • I feel the same way. Man can they fly!

        The Jagged Man

        October 28, 2012 at 12:21 AM

  11. Magnificent bird, great pose, I wonder what it was eyeing up.

    Finn Holding

    October 31, 2012 at 2:40 PM

  12. Particularly remarkable, given you had to go get your camera and come back. Great shot!

    Susan Scheid

    November 1, 2012 at 7:55 PM

    • It was considerate of the vultures to wait for me to get back, and then to hang around long enough for me to take a bunch of pictures, wasn’t it? But in the end they got wary of me and flew away, first one, then the other.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 1, 2012 at 8:00 PM

  13. […] similar to what occurred last October happened in almost the same place, except that instead of a single vulture on the arm of a street light I spotted a flock of cedar waxwings, Bombycilla cedrorum, high up in some bare treetops. I […]

  14. A great story, Steve … unlike the ones where you run to get the camera or change lenses or discover you’re battery is running on empty.The vultures actually waited for you! So accommodating. 🙂


    February 21, 2017 at 11:26 AM

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