They arrived shortly after dawn for a cold breakfast.
As the ranch house came into view we noticed the vultures in the cottonwoods.
We unpacked and checked the first camera trap on a hill not far from the house.
That's when we found the dead cow.
The Chimineas Ranch is in condor country. . . the inner coast range of San Luis Obispo County.
California condors are coming back to the region, but the vultures never left.
So we set a couple of cameras at the dead cow.
It's something you do after your own meal has settled.
Two days and 985 pictures later we knew who visits the Carrion Cafe.
Common vultures (81% of the pictures), yellow-billed magpies (55%), ravens (36%), starlings (15%), coyotes (14%).
Magpies arrived for a cold breakfast (5:15:23AM) as soon as the coyotes left (5:15:13AM).
Then came 2 to 3 ravens and the vultures -- young and old, no more than 6 at a time.
One starling watched from the sidelines and got bold when the big boys were scarce.
Later in the morning there was a lull.
The vultures stretched their wings in the sun and preened.
But they came and went all day long.
Whether the meals were hot or cold, the Carrion Cafe was a busy place.