Just Kids — Juvenile Turkey Vultures

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A friend and I were driving around in southern Arizona’s agricultural country the other morning when we came across something that neither of us had ever seen — a small flock of 8 to 10 Turkey Vultures consisting entirely of juvenile birds.  Seeing even one or two of these youngsters is a pretty uncommon experience, but a whole flock of them?  Unheard of!

But, there they were, perched quietly by the roadside, seemingly enjoying the late summer sun and certainly enjoying each other’s company.

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Young Turkey Vultures are bald just like adult birds.  But, the youngsters start out life with dark gray heads, as opposed to their elders’ pink to red heads.  They lose the gray tint quickly as they mature.  These birds still had a lot of gray in their skin but they were all becoming pinkish in color.

One does not often see juvenile Turkey Vultures, either singly or in groups.  I don’t know the explanation for that: perhaps it’s simply that these birds acquire adult skin tones very quickly after fledging.

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So, seeing just one of these youngsters was a treat.  But, a whole flock of them?  That’s the real mystery about our sighting.  I’ve not read that young Turkey Vultures tend to hang out together.  But, that certainly seemed to be the case with these birds.  It was almost as if we’d run into a bunch of kids on a playground.

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Images made with a Canon 5Diii, 100-400 ISII zoom lens+1.4x telextender @ 560 mm, aperture priority setting, ISO 640, f8.  The first image shot at 1/1000, the second at 1/2500, the third at 1/2000.

One response to “Just Kids — Juvenile Turkey Vultures”

  1. tkiiatmindspringcom says :

    Great pictures Steve! Especially the one of the Turkey Vulture stretching his wings.

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