Turkey Vultures — A Migrating Flock

You may enlarge any image in this blog by clicking on it. Click again for a detailed view.

In recent weeks I’ve chronicled some of the migrating bird species that pass through our area each autumn. I’ll continue to do that in days to come — the fall migration involves millions of birds and diverse species.

Turkey Vultures are today’s migrators. These big carrion eaters pass through our area in large numbers each autumn. If one drives through the farmlands early on an autumn morning one may come across a roosting flock of Turkey Vultures as they await the sun to warm the air sufficiently to create thermals that they can float on as they head south.

My friend Ned Harris and I were in luck recently. We drove down a farm road early one morning. In the distance we saw a large and almost dead Cottonwood by the roadside. From a mile away we could see nearly a dozen black dots scattered among the tree’s snags and limbs. Each of those dots was a roosting Turkey Vulture.

I’ve extolled the virtues of Turkey Vultures on numerous occasions. These birds are nature’s cleanup crew, ridding the landscape of carrion that would otherwise serve as breeding sites for hordes of flies and noxious bacteria.

Turkey Vultures are stereotyped as being ugly, even awkward birds. I disagree. They are among the most graceful of fliers. I find them to be extraordinarily beautiful when they spread their wings and take flight.

Turkey Vultures are summer residents of southern Arizona. During the hot months it’s likely that I’ll run across a handful of these birds as I drive through the countryside. The local residents mostly join with the migrants passing through the area during the fall migration and head south along with them. One can find them during the winter months in large numbers in northern Mexico and throughout the Baja Peninsula. I find that to be a bit perplexing because the desert environment in those areas doesn’t appear to be significantly different from the local habitat. However, the vultures apparently find enough differences to encourage them to migrate.

Can you discern the differences in appearance between the bird portrayed directly above and the other vultures whose images I’m featuring in today’s post? This bird is a juvenile Turkey Vulture, one born this past spring. Juvenile Turkey Vultures have steel gray heads and gray beaks whereas the adults invariably have pink or red heads and white beaks. The juveniles quickly acquire adult coloration: this bird is already showing areas of pink on its face.

I’m posting a lot of images today in order to give a feel for what it’s like to encounter a flock of roosting Turkey Vultures. One or two images don’t do justice to the magnificence of a flock of these big birds. Also, I really like these images, so why not share them?

Images made with a Canon R5, Canon EF 400 DO II lens+Canon EF 1.4x telextender, M setting (auto ISO), ISOs and exposure compensation varied, f8 @ 1/2500.

One Reply to “Turkey Vultures — A Migrating Flock”

  1. Sherry Felix says:

    I like TVs they are very intelligent.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at WordPress.com.