Monday, April 19, 2010

Down to earth...for a few moments

I see turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) all the time. It's nearly impossible to look up and not see one or two circling lazily, sometimes so far up in the sky that it seems almost impossible. I've taken them for granted for years and only once or twice have I seen them at rest. Well, yesterday as I walked along the edge of Howarth Park I was surprised to see three of them perched at the top of a phone pole very near the trail I was on. I stopped and got out my sketchbook and binoculars and began working. I discovered that vultures are very shy, more so than many of the songbirds I try to sketch. Within five minutes the last of the three spread her wings and was gone.

Oddly, the next day I was sketching some wildflowers when two turkey vultures came to roost in some nearby oaks. They seemed unconcerned while I drew the flowers but as soon as I moved around to sketch THEM, both took off even faster than the original three. They were closer so I was able to clearly see their astonishingly strange red heads that seem to emerge from their large bodies like something out of Men In Black. I hope I get the chance to draw more. They're really quite fascinating up close.

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