First I want to say it is May 17th and there is at least an inch of snow on the ground as I write this and it is still coming down! I checked and the latest date for snow in the Salt Lake City area is May 18th so we are one day off from a three-way tie. Crazy.
On two different dates in early May I was able to photograph Turkey Vultures on red and green gates in northern Utah.
Some gates here are wooden, or wire with wooden braces and some are metal. Usually it is only the metal gates that are painted in different colors. I’m sure this red gate was brighter when it was new but the sun has probably bleached some of the vibrant color away.
I know that some people associate gates with death and shedding our mortal coils for instance “Pearly Gates” and the “Gates of Hell” but these vultures are just roosting and perching on the gates because… well they are convenient perches.
In this image it is easy to see why the vultures perched on the gate by looking at the background. Not much to perch on there except the ground. Sure, there are power poles nearby but a group of vultures can’t perch together on a single pole and Turkey Vultures do seem to like to roost together.
Two days after I photographed the vultures on the red gate I was able to photograph Turkey Vultures on a weathered green gate. Some of the vultures were thermoregulating.
Some were close enough for me to take portraits of. I like the open bill shown in this photo plus the direct eye contact. And that white stuff on the birds back… it is poop from other vultures that may have been perched higher than this one.
It was early morning when I photographed these Turkey Vultures on the green gate on a cool morning, I’m certain the sun warmed the vultures up because it felt good to me too.
Mornings can be cool here in northern Utah even into June. It’s cold enough to snow here this morning!
Turkey Vultures have lower body temperatures at night than they do during the day and spreading their wings on sunny mornings helps to raise their body temperature to their daytime levels.
Morning also seems to be a preferred time for Turkey Vultures to preen and groom their feathers because I see that behavior combined with thermoregulation quite often while I am out in the field.
Normally I prefer natural perches for my subjects but I rather enjoyed photographing these Turkey Vultures and thinking of them as feathered gatekeepers.
Life is good. Birds are good.