Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Turkey Vulture

On 24 August 2016, John Holden and I drove by two large, black birds. I declared them to be young Turkey Vultures. These vultures begin life covered by fuzzy, white down. A bit of this fuzz remains around the back of this bird’s head and ear. For several months, young have black heads. In the fall, the head begins to turn pinkish. Adult coloration is attained late in their second year.

Turkey Vultures accumulate pesticides in their tissues They are shot or trapped, either accidentally or on purpose. They may succumb to lead poisoning eating animals that have been shot. Like this bird, vultures often scavenge for roadkill along highways. This behavior makes them liable to collisions with automobiles or to electrocution from power lines. Turkey Vultures are the number one cause of damage and fatalities in military aircraft bird strikes. Despite all these perils, these vultures are tolerant of humans and adaptable in diet and nesting sites. Populations are thought to be stable or increasing (Kirk and Mossman 1998).

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