Turkey Vultures Along The Tanque Verde Wash   10 comments

Turkey Vultures Along the Tanque Verde Wash — Image by kenne

Although many turkey vultures are in southern Arizona year round, in the Fall and Spring many migrating through. When they roost in large community groups are night, and one such location is along the Tanque Verde Wash south of our home in Tanuri Ridge. This time of year there be over 150 turkey vultures roosting in dead trees along the wash. The following information is from the Turkey Vulture Society web site:

Appearance: The turkey vulture’s head (like the head of its namesake, the wild turkey) is bald and red. Its plumage is primarily dark brown (see photo to right). In flight, the undersides of the wings are two-toned: on the leading edge (the front) of the wing the color appears black or dark brown, and the trailing edge appears silver or whitish (see photo to right).  Genders seem identical and it is impossible to visually distinguish males from females.

The Vulture’s Bald Head: There is an important purpose to the vulture’s bald head.  When the vulture is eating carrion, it must often stick its head inside the carcass to reach the meat. A feathery head would capture unwanted pieces of the vulture’s meal (just like food can stick in men’s beards), along with all the bacteria such pieces would host. The bald head, ultimately, is a matter of hygiene for vultures.

Size: Twenty-five to 32 inches long, with a wingspan around 6 feet.  Healthy adult turkey vultures weigh about 5 to 6 pounds.

Voice:  Turkey vultures do not have a voice box and thus have limited vocalization capabilities. They can only utter hisses and grunts. They usually hiss when they feel threatened. Grunts are commonly heard from hungry young, and adults in courtship.

The images on this posting were taken this morning before the turkey start there leaving patterns, which will be in groups of 5 to 30-plus and may take place over an hour. It’s a beautiful sight!


(Flickr Slideshow)

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Images by kenne

10 responses to “Turkey Vultures Along The Tanque Verde Wash

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  1. Kenne, I grew up in Ohio. There is a place called Hinckley Lake that is a refuge for the noble Turkey Vulture.
    My song, “Buzzard of Love” is based on the soaring vultures (cleaning up expired love). I know vultures are different from buzzards but most people don’t know the difference.

    Buzzard of Love

    There’s a buzzard, of love,
    Circling low, in the sky.
    It’s found a love, it knows is going to die.
    Now I wonder, yeah I wonder,
    Why it’s circling, over me.
    Is there something going on round here I just don’t see ?



  2. Turkey vultures are pretty common through most of north America and stay year round in southern US, but this time of year those that summer in Canada are headed south to Mexico.Since many of the migrating birds are roosting just a few hundred years from us, there’s more of an opportunity to observe them. They are really beautiful animals.

    You’re correct, buzzard is the correct term for several species of hawks. The term “buzzard” is often employed incorrectly to describe vultures. Most people do tend to call all large soaring birds, buzzard. But, as a poet and songwriter, you are allowed the poetic license.

    Your verse is very philosophical.

    We are going to be at Ken & Mary’s in October — are you guys going to be there?


  3. Pingback: James Goes Hiking Along the Tanque Verde Wash « Becoming is Superior to Being

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  7. Reblogged this on Becoming is Superior to Being and commented:

    We moved to Tucson in June of 2010, but it wasn’t until the fall of 2011 that I became aware of the migrating stayed overnight near the Tanque Verde wash near our neighborhood. This posting five years ago was the first of several postings on one of my favorite birds.



  8. Great photo essay, kenne!


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