Vultures Over West Texas

We, who live out here in west Texas, know who they are and where they live.  They are there in the skies, on the ground, and nesting in the trees.  Most of all they are most familiar when they are eating at their favorite fast food place, the “Carrion Carryout”, aka your nearby highway. 

Turkey Vulture


But to other folks, they are an amazement.  We had family visitors a couple of years ago from Northern Michigan.  Seeing Turkey Vultures was one of their highlights of their visit.  They were also enthralled with our numerous Jackrabbits.  As you can see, our relatives are easily entertained.

Juvenile Turkey Vulture


There are two types of vultures around here.  The Turkey Vulture (cathartes aura), and the Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus).  The most common is the Turkey Vulture, easily distinguished by the red head on the adule.  The juvenile’s head is more gray.  The Black Vulture is, of course, all black, except for the wrinkled grayish head.  The Turkey Vulture can find it’s food by smell.

Turkey Vulture Warming it's Wings


In the early mornings, the vultures can be seen sitting in the open, maybe on fences or trees, with their wings spread to the morning sun, warming them to take flight.  They have been known to show some intelligence, such as when feeding on their road-kill, they do have the sense to fly off to avoid being struck by on-coming traffic.  Ann and I once observed a vulture, who was eating in the traffic ahead of us, instead of flying, he actually dragged his kill off the highway to get it out of the way.

I’m sorry to say that I do not have an image of a Black Vulture on file.  To see these above enlarged, just click on each image.

Happy Birding!!

9 thoughts on “Vultures Over West Texas

  1. There is a NestCam streaming live video 24/7 for a black vulture pair up and running at

    Eggs were laid 2/20 and 2/23/12, two weeks earlier than last year. Parents are sharing incubation responsibilities with an affectionate nuzzle at the periodic changing of the guard. Fluffy-tan chicks are expected to hatch the last week of March.

  2. I’ve only seen vultures in our Rupununi region (of course, I haven’t really been looking) and I think that they sound like the Black Vultures you describe. I like the Turkey Vultures you shot here, very nicely done, especially the image where he spreads his wings for you 🙂

  3. Thanks, Kim. It’s nice to hear from another bird lover (at least a vulture lover) from Texas I hope you will visit my blog again soon. I enjoyed the poetry and the video..

  4. Funny your wife saying that – I think they’re fascinating! People tend to take our ravens for granted too, or vilify them, but they’re the most visible and interesting wildlife we see on a regular basis. Another funny story about them…we had an old fellow hanging around our horse barns for years. He was so tattered he was recognizable. He used to entertain himself by literally barking at the dogs; they’re quite good mimics. It drove them totally crazy trying to figure out how to get at this weird dog sitting probably 60 feet up on the top of a dead pine tree. It was hilarious!

    Thank you so much for your compliments. Someday I’ll take the plunge into printing, but for now it seems like a very expensive indulgence. I am working on a half a dozen stories – but I’m very slow! 🙂

    • Cindy, even I can’t print a 30×40. 🙂 However I do print my pictures regularly for sale at events here. Mostly just 11x14s, and I mat them and sometimes frame them. Not all that expensive, really. The big ones, like a 30×40 I have printed by an outside source. If you ever decide you want to give a shot I can help you on that.

      Your story about the ravens is hilarious. It is funny how some birds can be mimics. Our state bird, the Northern Mockingbird is good at it. The one that thinks he owns our yard can mimic just about anything, but I think his favorite is mocking a bluejay. Keeps me fooled all the time.

  5. These are creatures of myth to me and I love your images of them as well as the information you provide. It sounds like they’re pretty intelligent. I never tire of watching our ravens and the cunning and often human-like way they go about their day. They even seem to have a sense of play: I’ve watched them ‘sledding’ on a Quonset roof nearby.

    • My wife told me, “can’t you think of anything else than vultures, to write about”?? It was just a whim on my part. Ravens are intrigueing for me. For one thing, they are hard to photograph, as they are so dark in color. But they also have some mystique, too, or maybe I have watched too many Alfred Hitchcock movies. That must have been a curious sight seeing them sledding on that roof.

      On another subject, I see that you have been getting some well deserved comments on your last post. That last photo of yours of the sheep in the pasture, I can visualize it as a framed 30×40 hanging above someone’s fireplace.

      I hope you are working on another story.


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