Tips on Photographing Vultures in Flight

Photo Credit by Ned Harris.

I will provide some tips on how to photograph vultures in flight.  This image above is not mine, I am just using it as a example for my blog post, but if you want to view my work then scroll down to the bottom of this article and click the hyper link that links you to my website.  I have spent over a decade photographing vultures in flight and I have found them pretty easy to photograph over the years.  The image above is of an American Black Vulture and they reside as far north as southeastern United States and their range extends as far south as southern South America.  The American Black Vulture and many vultures in general mostly contain black or dark colored plumage which makes it pretty hard to photograph them against a bright sky with enough lighting to expose well under their dark colored underparts.  One way to avoid this dilemma is to photograph vultures around early morning or later in the evening when the lighting is most optimal for photographing birds in flight.  Vultures tend to leave their roost around early to mid morning and arrive to their roosting site to later in the evening before night fall.  Usually around mid day, vultures are flying really high up in the sky looking and scanning the terrain for carcasses so basically your main objective is to focus on positioning yourself during times when vultures are flying closer to the earth rather than during other times when they are soaring too high above.

Now you have to keep in mind that vultures are the highest flying birds with the Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture reaching heights of up to 37,000 feet and while the Turkey Vulture can reach heights of up to 20,000 feet in the air.  Vultures are one of the most challenging birds to photograph in flight but also the most rewarding.  One tip to keep in mind for when planning to photograph vultures during early or mid morning is to beware of the wind or updraft conditions.  For example, which way is the wind or updraft blowing and is the breeze blowing strongly or softly?  If the wind is blowing against you, position yourself and your camera towards that direction and look for closely approaching flying birds.  Try staying near open terrain where it is easier for you to photograph closely approaching flying birds.

Another great tip to keep in mind is to locate residential vultures’ roosting sites and this will increase you chances of photographing vultures in flight.  Try going to their roosting sites early in the morning before they start taking off to the skies or later in the evening when they are planning for roosting for the night.  You can also rack some luck by driving on the road and keeping an open eye out for dead carcasses and these are prime places for spotting vultures feasting on them along the roadside.

Here’s a youtube video of Giant Turtles vs Black Vultures:

Video Credit by BBC Worldwide.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my article concerning photographing vultures in flight and have learned something new from me and from perspective.  To learn more about me, then visit by clicking my Website.