Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

All right, three animals in a row

with 14 comments

Vulture on Power Lines 5094

Click for greater sharpness and size.

No cactus or broomweed or palafoxia this time, nor any animal as small as in insect, but a vulture on a metal bar that’s part of the large power lines running across a swath of my Great Hills neighborhood in northwest Austin. The vulture had been sunning itself with outstretched wings when I noticed it, but by the time I switched from the macro lens of the previous photographs to a telephoto lens, the vulture had folded its wings. Why, then, are they open here? Because as I walked closer, the vulture, even though it was up so high, grew wary of lowly me and made movements as if to fly away, which it soon did.

The date was August 22nd, and this ended my morning photo session beneath the power lines west of Morado Circle.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 27, 2013 at 6:04 AM

14 Responses

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  1. What a great shot!


    September 27, 2013 at 6:24 AM

    • These vultures seem to have adapted quite well to modern development: the streets here often enough have dead animals that were killed by cars.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 27, 2013 at 6:36 AM

  2. The blue cast of the feathers closest to the body is marvelous. My guess is that the strong sunlight and translucent feathers caused it, but whatever the cause, the color makes the bird look as though it’s made partly of sky.

    The image clearly recalls the Thunderbird, beloved of so many tribes. It’s a fabulous photo – but of course saying so already has reminded me of those other Fabulous Thunderbirds. Thanks for rocking my morning!


    September 27, 2013 at 6:51 AM

    • Because a vulture is so dark, especially in comparison to a lighter object like the wooden pole, I overexposed the picture by a full f/stop in order to bring out details in the feathers that might otherwise have been lost in the blackness.

      From the way these birds seem to fly so easily in spite of their large size, you might think they’re indeed partly made of sky. Thanks for suggesting that celestial component.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 27, 2013 at 7:07 AM

  3. Nice © placement. We have a lot of vultures around here. Two overnight roosting areas are note-able. One is on top of a cell phone tower next to I-80. I wonder if they are listening to conversations. The other is on the large rocks on the sloping side of a dam for our reservoir on the Iowa River. This second group I have seen early in the day standing like your specimen with wings spread. When you see 20 of them doing the pose all at one, it is a bit eerie.

    Jim in IA

    September 27, 2013 at 8:16 AM

    • I wish I could find a group of 20 vultures; I think the most I’ve seen is 3 or 4. If you accumulate a surplus, send some of them down here so I can do a group picture. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the ones you have in those two places.

      The light-colored metal bar seemed a good place for an inconspicuous copyright notice.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 27, 2013 at 9:11 AM

  4. Turkey buzzards used to come land on the top of my swingset, above my head, while I was swinging and singing. It seems odder now that I am older.


    September 27, 2013 at 9:05 AM

    • Maybe it was your singing that drew them, but I think most parents would be alarmed. Too bad you didn’t have a camera with you while you were swinging; that would have been an excellent vantage point for some original pictures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 27, 2013 at 9:15 AM

  5. Yay! I do so admire vultures!


    September 27, 2013 at 7:20 PM

  6. Beautiful capture. I’ve had the opportunity to see these up close (well, as close as you can get without them flying away) a few times, now, since I moved to a more rural community. I’m surprised by their size. These are pretty big birds!


    September 29, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    • Big indeed, and I’m impressed that in spite of their size and weight they can fly so well. I’ve been fortunate a couple of times to get even closer than what’s shown here, but you’re right that it’s not easy.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 29, 2013 at 4:14 PM

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