Photographic composites document the fascinating flight tracks of vultures, crows and bats

Inasmuch as



February 2, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Locking Vultures (Moab Mesa).” All images © Doris Mitsch, shared with permission

In Locked up looking upBay Area photographer Doris Mitsch captures the swirling and changing flight patterns of birds and other winged creatures: a flock of vultures create coils and whirls between rugged mesas, crows descend towards a forest in single-file trails and gulls congregate above the sea in long lines.

The current project began in early 2020 when Mitsch set up a camera outside his front door and took consecutive images of birds flying around his house. “While everything in my life has come to a standstill, up in the air there is still a lot going on,” she wrote. She has since traveled along the California coast and through the desert landscapes of Moab, capturing similar swarming phenomena featuring vultures, gulls and crows.

Mitsch’s composites vary in duration, number of birds and combined total images, which range from 500 to 5,000. “One of my favorites, ‘Lockdown Vulture (Signature)’ shows a single vulture circling slowly for about a minute,” Mitsch told Colossal. “My other favorite, ‘Lockdown Vultures (Moab Mesa)’ shows about five minutes of about 25 birds circling together.”

In addition to this series, Mitsch has also made a collection dedicated to the murmurs of starlings, which you can see on his site. You might also enjoy this bird-shaped swarm. (via swissmiss)

“Lockdown Vulture (Signature)”

“Locking Vultures (Slope of Moab)”

“Lock Swallows (Hunting)”

“Lockdown Crows (Evening Ride)”

“Lockdown Crows (A Tree)”

“Containment Bats (Pas de Deux)”

“Locking Seagulls (Sea Ranch)”


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Michael E. Marquez