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.
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.
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.
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.