Turkey Vultures might not be pretty but they are awesome at what they do

Adult Turkey Vulture on a fence postAdult Turkey Vulture on a fence post

A bald red head, dark plumage and a white tipped bill isn’t something that most people think of as handsome, regal or even good looking but Turkey Vultures are awesome at what they do. They have been called  john crow, carrion crow, turkey buzzard and “vomiting vultures” because when they are disturbed their defense is to vomit bits of undigested offal (isn’t that awful?).

Adult Turkey Vulture getting ready to lift offAdult Turkey Vulture getting ready to lift off

But they are a dependable cleanup crew wherever they might be, they clean up road kill that most of us wouldn’t touch with a 20 foot pole, then feed on dead animals that we don’t even see and they do it efficiently. They have strong stomachs and a very keen sense of smell and very graceful when they are soaring in flight.

I can’t dislike like them because they aren’t “pretty, they are birds which are my favorite subjects to photograph.

This is the other bird that saved my day on Monday in Snowville, Utah when the birds were not very cooperative and stayed too far away and yes, a big rig scared it off too.


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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and to pursue my passion for photographing birds.


  1. I know Margaret Atwood wrote a poem about vultures but I’ve never been able to find it.

  2. Loekie van der Wal

    I know exactly what you’re talking about. We have now for several weeks about 20 to 24 just outside our village. In the daytime they are majestically soaring through the air and by the evening they are stationing in dead trees. Last Saturday I was able to get closer to them to get some nice pictures. I have learned a lot about these beautiful birds and started to admire them even more. Awesome shots, Mia, as always. Hope you got your computer back in great working order.

  3. My father told me that anything which does its job efficiently is beautiful. So… he would tell you that the Turkey Vulture IS beautiful.
    Love it, and thank you.

  4. Wonderful shots of these amazing birds, Mia. They are beautiful in flight with a huge wingspread. I love them. They should be appreciated for what they do so well.

  5. Terrific photographs of these very interesting birds! I did not know about the vomiting when disturbed. I really do make for great photography subjects.

  6. Turkey vultures ARE beautiful….in flight/ when they soar so gracefully. It’s always easy to identify them…shallow V-shape, small heads, big,black bodies, long, narrow tails, but mostly because turkey vultures ROCK (and roll)…That’s the easiest way for me. Rock and roll? Turkey vulture! Great shots.

  7. Nice shots. They’re pretty cool birds. We have them here too, and they’ll come into town and sail around right above the treetops, and perch in a big old dead cottonwood at night. I too, love getting photos of them.

  8. I haven’t seen a Vulture yet (none in Australia so some of our raptors, corvids and sometimes gulls mainly fill that gap), but the world would be in trouble if they didn’t exist!

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