web analytics

Turkey Vulture

Posted on Jun 28, 2015

During a late afternoon on a lovely day last week I did a double take as I found an unexpected bird on the lawn – a Turkey Vulture! It had discovered a dead Eastern Chipmunk only moments earlier and was preparing to do its job. I was with my Shetland Sheepdog, Zach, who had not seen the bird over the slight hill in the lawn. I walked back to him, bent down and told him to look at this bird as I pointed. He eagerly glanced around and spotted it, eyes widening and slowly creeping towards it out of curiously and intrigue despite my cautioning. He held at this position, head forward, trying to smell this new friend. He loves his birds.

Turkey Vulture yard chipmunk Zach-0783

The Turkey Vulture apparently knew we were out of range to be any threat, or had no bad intentions, and it proceeded to eat its meal within a couple minutes.

Turkey Vulture yard chipmunk-0722-2

After some ripping and tearing, being sure to clean any bits up, it downed the chipmunk.

Turkey Vulture yard chipmunk-0758

Content with a good snack it stood in the grass and made sure it did not leave any more behind.

Turkey Vulture yard chipmunk-0764

Finding a piece here or there it kept on “vacuuming” up our earth.

Turkey Vulture yard chipmunk-0768

I should add that I had seen the chipmunk the day before, thinking based on the injuries and having been left in place that it had been killed by a cat. The Turkey Vultures may appreciate the help but please keep those cats indoors!

Turkey Vulture yard chipmunk-0771

Those vultures have quite a look up close. Their incredible sense of smell allows them to find all these carcasses, and those bald heads help keep them sanitary, ensuring none of their meals get stuck to them and cause illness or disease.

Turkey Vulture yard chipmunk-0777

Apparently content it had cleared the dinner table this Turkey Vulture moved over to a nearby roof in the neighborhood to catch some rays and clean up.

Turkey Vulture yard chipmunk-0816

Zach was startled when this surprisingly large bird took off but riveted by the entire experience. Thank you, Turkey Vulture, for doing your duty!

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator