A Visiting Turkey Vulture

Tuesday, March 17, 2020,

This is a Turkey Vulture. Turkey Vultures have an extraordinary sense of smell. Scientists believe that these vultures have the largest and most powerful olfactory organs of any bird. They can smell carrion hundreds of feet below as they ride the thermals far above. Some sources claim that a Turkey Vulture can detect a carcass from as much as a mile away. 

As some of you know, I am a long-time volunteer at Sweetbriar Nature Center. At Sweetbriar we have two Turkey Vultures, at least one of which is female. What you may not know is that this is the start of the mating season for these birds. As I stated earlier, Turkey Vultures have an excellent sense of smell. And it’s not always about carrion. Sometimes, it’s about love. (Cue the Beatles’ “All You Need is Love”.) Without the love bit, we’d be running low on Turkey Vultures and that would be a very bad thing. But that’s a lesson for another day.

So anyways, some years, (but not every year), the female Turkey Vulture at Sweetbriar attracts roaming males. They will perch in the trees around her enclosure. Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to photograph a love-smitten male as he visited our grounds. It’s not every day that I get the chance to see a vulture that isn’t a half mile away so I pulled out my camera and took some photographs. Maybe I got something worth seeing. JK


3 thoughts on “A Visiting Turkey Vulture

  1. Maybe if they are in need of more turkey vultures in the wild, they can let her have a date or two with one of these lovesick guys and then raise the chicks for release? Would that be possible?

    Great pictures, by the way! Love that last inquisitive one especially!

  2. Thanks Michele.
    Turkey Vultures have been making a decent comeback in the wild since 1966 and are listed as a species of Low Concern by the folks at Cornell Labs. In fact, they are among the most common large carnivorous birds in North America.
    Also, a captive born chick would not be able to receive the proper training that would allow it to be successful in the wild. JK.

  3. Ah, I figured it would be too hard for the integration of the chick into the wild, but it seemed like a neat notion when it came to me. If only this was a species that the father bird would take care of too. But I’m glad they are not endangered. I do see them periodically in the skies. Great that you could get such close detailed shots. I have one of your turkey vulture pictures framed in my hallway. A handsome stately bird indeed. 🙂

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