Sunday, June 24, 2012

Turkey Vulture nestlings

Of the 196 species of birds confirmed breeding during the latest Ohio Breeding Bird Atlas (2006-11,, it is probably safe to say that Turkey Vultures have one of the lowest nest confirmation rates out of all common species.  Perhaps this is due to the fact that they prefer to nest concealed away in old, abandoned barns, hollowed out logs and rocky niches. Using data from the breeding bird atlas, the comparable Red-tailed Hawk clearly shows the difference between confirmation frequencies. (Note: black represent confirmed).

Red-tailed Hawk - Ohio Breeding Bird Atlas II results
Turkey Vulture - Ohio Breeding Bird Atlas II results
Interesting enough, using eBird data for Ohio, during the past 10 years for the months of June-July, Red-tailed Hawk had a report rate frequency of roughly 11% of all checklists, while Turkey Vulture hovered around 17%. With that said, you can imagine my excitement being able to monitor a nest right down the road.

For the past three and a half weeks I’ve been in west-central Ohio doing some non-bird related work in the agriculturally dominated Darke County. Upon arriving, a local birder and I checked an old barn that has had Turkey Vultures nesting there for several years and sure enough, here is what we found…

Turkey Vulture young
As we climbed the ladder, their raucous hissing immediately caught our attention.  A simple impression in the hay tucked in the corner of the loft is all these prehistorically-looking fuzz balls need. 

After a couple weeks, we ventured back and discovered our ugly friends have doubled in size. I took this quick video before leaving them be. No, that’s not my cell phone having sound issues, that is the sound of two angry vulture nestlings. Some say it has the distinctive sounds of whip cream coming out of an aerosol can.

I've always had a keen interest in bird ecology and behavior so having the opportunity to observe the nesting habits of vultures has been quite educational. In a few weeks they’ll make their first flight attempts and eventually leave the nest.

1 comment:

James said...

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