Cooperative First of Year Turkey Vulture

/, Box Elder County, Turkey Vultures, Utah/Cooperative First of Year Turkey Vulture

Back view of an adult Turkey VultureBack view of an adult Turkey Vulture – Nikon D500, f10, 1/800, ISO 500, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

I was pleased to see and photograph my first of the year Turkey Vulture perched on a fence post next to a road yesterday in northern Utah. I’ve been waiting for them to come back and to see them soaring on the thermals in search of food.

Turkey Vulture with open billTurkey Vulture with open bill – Nikon D500, f8, 1/800, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

It was chilly yesterday morning and this vulture may have roosted on the fence post overnight and was just beginning to warm up for the day. The vulture opened its bill a few times.

Yawning Turkey VultureYawning Turkey Vulture – Nikon D500, f8, 1/800, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

And yawned. Turkey Vultures only hiss and grunt, they never call because they do not have a syrinx, a vocal organ found in other bird species. So if you ever see a soaring Turkey Vulture on TV or in a movie calling you’ll know that someone on the production team didn’t do their research on these birds.

Turkey Vulture's under valued beautyTurkey Vulture’s under valued beauty – Nikon D500, f8, 1/800, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

There are people who think that Turkey Vultures, California Condors and Black Vultures are ugly and some people might even get creeped out by them. I am not one of those people. I like the coloring of their feathers and that black feathered collar around their necks.

Rousing adult Turkey VultureRousing adult Turkey Vulture – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1000, ISO 500, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

I also appreciate how they clean up our environment by consuming carrion and road kill. I suspect that the human road crews that are assigned to clean up road kills appreciate them too.

First of Year Turkey VultureFirst of Year Turkey Vulture – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1000, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR, natural light, not baited

I removed my teleconverter to take this photo hoping to get some images of the vulture taking off without clipping its wing tips but unfortunately a pickup sped by and I missed the images of it lifting off.

I saw more than a dozen Turkey Vultures yesterday while I was out and about and that was a treat.

I enjoyed being able to photograph this cooperative Turkey Vulture yesterday with a grassy slope in the background and I hope I have many more opportunities to put my lens on them while they are here to breed and raise their young this year.

Life is good.



  1. stevi March 28, 2017 at 10:29 am

    Lovely to see, especially posing against such an agreeable background. My own sightings yesterday was in a tangle of old bark, new buds and shifting shadows…still, a wonderful creature to watch. He was cleaning himself up after a bit of old sea lion carcass. The ivory beak tip is so startling! Thanks for your beautiful work.

  2. Elephant's Child March 25, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    Hooray for the clean-up crew.
    And no, not ugly at all.

  3. Utahbooklover March 25, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    Great images, up close. I also love to watch them fly in their distinctive manner.

  4. Korin Olson March 25, 2017 at 10:05 am

    I think they are fascinating. Love to see them doing their thing on the back roads of Kentucky.

  5. April Olson March 25, 2017 at 9:43 am

    Beautiful photos of a beautiful bird and a wonderful day too.

  6. judy March 25, 2017 at 9:10 am

    You sure do make them look beautiful!

  7. Patty Chadwick March 25, 2017 at 8:37 am

    Quite a series of the Sanitation Department”… You can always identify them by their ” rock and roll” thermal riding…

  8. Joanie March 25, 2017 at 8:19 am

    I agree, BEAUTIFUL bird! Beautiful photo

  9. Catherine March 25, 2017 at 7:50 am

    They’re a year round bird here on the California coast. Watching them play in the wind is one of my great joys. They zoom by at almost eye level across our meadow, trying not to flap when they clear the fence. If they do flap, they turn around and do it again. Since we’ve limbed a bunch of redwoods, they’re shooting those gaps into the orchard, where they resume their flights back toward the ocean.

    The wildlife rehab place I used to volunteer at back in the nineties still has the same turkey vulture, a misnamed Richard, who is a wonderful ambassador for her species. She puts up with the fumblings of people trying to learn how to handle raptors and is very attentive to certain people.

  10. Miriam Reed March 25, 2017 at 6:40 am

    Such a lovely bird, in his own way. Great photos!

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