Photographic Composites Document the Mesmerizing Flight Trails of Vultures, Crows, and Bats

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

In Locked Down Looking Up, Bay Area photographer Doris Mitsch captures the swirling, shapeshifting flight patterns of birds and other winged creatures: a flock of vultures creates coils and whirls between rugged mesas, crows descend toward a forest in single-file trails, and gulls congregate above the sea in lengthy lines.

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

Mitsch’s composites vary in length of time, number of birds, and total images combined, which ranges from 500 to 5,000. “One of my favorites, ‘Lockdown Vulture (Signature)’ shows just one vulture making slow circles over the course of about a minute,” Mitsch tells Colossal. “My other favorite, ‘Lockdown Vultures (Moab Mesa)’ shows about five minutes’ worth of 25 or so birds circling together.”

In addition to this series, Mitsch also shot a collection devoted to starlings’ murmurations, which you can see on her site. You might enjoy this bird-shaped swarm, too. (via swissmiss)


“Lockdown Vulture (Signature)”

“Lockdown Vultures (Moab Slope)”

“Lockdown Swallows (Hunting)”

“Lockdown Crows (Evening Commute)”

“Lockdown Crows (One Tree)”

“Lockdown Bats (Pas de Deux)”

“Lockdown Gulls (Sea Ranch)”


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