COMMON NAME: Turkey Vulture
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Cathartes aura
COMMON NAME: Black Vulture
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Coragyps atratus
Click on any picture to enlarge
It may be just me, but for years I’ve looked up at the sky to see the vultures flying overhead, assuming all of them were Turkey Vultures. I did this ever since someone once pointed up at one and said “that’s a Turkey Vulture”. Well, from a person-on-the-ground’s-eye-view, all vultures looked pretty much the same to me, so I assumed they were all Turkey Vultures.
It wasn’t until I got a good dSLR camera with a telephoto lens last February and began taking vulture photos and looking at them on my computer and comparing them to pictures in bird identification books. Then it dawned on me that my pictures, and the skies overhead this property, were full of both vultures.
The Black Vulture is the smaller of the two, has white wing tips and a gray head. It also has shorter, more even tail feathers that are black underneath.
The Turkey Vulture has a red head, a larger wing span, and white feathers across the entire length of the underside of its wings. The tail feathers form a longer, more rounded shape and are white underneath like the wing feathers.
What an awesome sight, to see these two flying in unison for the moment, one just over top the other. It’s almost as if they are performing in an air show. To catch this as a photograph was quite a thrill for me, making this my favorite vulture photo to-date.
The Black Vulture began heading off in a slightly different direction and soon the two were off in different parts of the sky. But we’ll always have our moment caught on film won’t we my friends? But I’ll be waiting and I’ll be watching for that next awesome low flight overhead, that next vulture modeling pose, that next joyful thrill of the “shoot.”
These posts will also contain links to other resources for these magnificent birds.