Turkey vulture (Cathartes aura)

A few of these were close to the road in this hayfield so I stopped and took a few pictures before they moved off. I’ve not been successful shooting these birds in the past, but this time got lucky. I can’t remember if I stayed in the Jeep or got out, but either way, I like that I got close enough to capture the iridescence in the plumage which I didn’t realize they had. Not sure if it’s emphasized for breeding, but I was glad I didn’t get a shot of their breakfast in this portrait. As a matter of fact I couldn’t tell what they were excited about, which is good I guess. I have learned that they cannot tear hides of large, freshly killed animals and rely on other animals to make the first strike so to speak. Their neck muscles just aren’t strong enough.

This time of year all the winter roadkill is exposed and these guys as well as eagles, ravens and crows are busy roadside. So we have to be extra careful not to mow down an eagle because they are slow at taking off and need lots of room which means they fly just off the end of your hood as you drive down the road.

Specific Feedback Requested

Well…whatever you have, let me know. It’s basically bird on stick. Without the stick.

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No


Lr for RAW processing including a big lift in the shadows and a white balance tweak. A big crop and the usual texture, clarity, sharpening, nr & lens correction. Topaz Sharpen to tease out some detail.

I like the warm tones in the image and turkey vultures are very photo worthy. The head color pulls in the eye nicely and I think that this comp works well in showing off this turkey vulture. Well done…Jim

Awesome image of the vulture, Kris. Nice warm image with a lot of dynamics created by the bird. I might consider cropping a bit from the bottom to help ground the bird. But it’s awesome as is too.

Thanks @Jim_Zablotny and @David_Bostock - glad it works well and isn’t too static. They don’t really do much except sit, circle and eat. I could play with cropping some more. I think I have the room. Even got what I think are mites on its face.