Our California drought is getting bouts of wild wet weather. Over the weekend through Monday we received 4 inches of rain at our place. It was accompanied by high winds and power outages.
On Tuesday we heard barking on the deck, however no dog was in view. Sailor was under the deck, barking up a storm. Kinta kept trying to go under the deck and Blitz kept sniffing it in a search pattern she uses for bird hunting.
We didn’t give it much thought, then yesterday morning I blocked the under deck access enough to keep the dogs out and still allow the cat or whatever else was hiding to egress. Sure enough, look who wondered out…
He or she was soaked and tattered. A friend from Shasta Wildlife Rescue stopped by to pick up a donation and we observed the turkey vulture together. It looked old and a bit bedraggled, but appeared to be getting drier and stronger. This time of year, birds are fighting over nesting spots. Perhaps this one took a dunk in the pond during one such struggle, and then took shelter under the deck while the storms passed.
Dogs, being dogs, found it and sounded the alarm. Who knows, perhaps they plucked a feather or two. Lucky dogs, the vulture didn’t vomit. That’s the usual defense mechanism.
Once dried, the turkey vulture safely made its way into a tree to roost for the night. Tap on the any image and enjoy the slide show.
Once it left the deck, the vulture stretched its wings in the yard.
Here’s looking at you.
The tattered wings of the turkey vulture look lacy in an attempt to fly.
The turkey vulture makes its way to the garden area.
Stretched out on a garden post, it’s easy to see the missing feathers.
The turkey vulture airs its wings while standing on a post pile.
The young turkey vultures are fledglings now. Each day they hop up on branches, stretch and flap their wings. I promise some more videos, they have been so active I have a lot of video feed to sift through.
A few shots to hold you over…
The fledglings are about 9.5 weeks now. They stretch their wings often. The downy white is almost all gone. At this age, they have more black in their dark brown than their parents.
The turkey vulture siblings spend a large part of their day out of the nest cavity.
I have been reviewing the video recording from the vulture nest cam. WOW!
This eight week old turkey vulture chick makes the long climb out of the nesting cavity. The hollow of this oak tree is 14 feet deep. The second chick makes its appearance the next day, it will take some time for me to pull the footage. When I get it done, I will post it here.
This is like watching a baby take tentative steps. Bliss.
The turkey vulture chicks are about 6.5 weeks old. Most large birds fledge around 10 to 11 weeks. Their chick down is giving way to juvenile feathers. The nest is becoming crowded. Their plumage will gradually shift to dark brown. It will be two years before the skin on their bald heads becomes red.
Previously, the chicks just observed and hissed at the GoPro. This time, they lunged at it so it will be the last visit by the GoPro. Soon they will climb out of the deep cavern they call home and begin living in the upper world.
At 6.5 weeks old the chicks are changing rapidly.
A little camera shy. The red glow is the GoPro record light.
No Place for UGLY Birds – a picture book about turkey vultures.
The turkey vulture nest gets visitors from time to time. An occasional nuthatch or raccoon as seen in Night Visitor pass through. This week, wood ducks have been landing on and peering into the cavity of the turkey vulture nest.
Much to my surprise, a brave hen decided to leap inside.
We lowered a GoPro to get a duck’s eye view of the chicks. My friend Rhythm calls them “ghost babies.”
Having all of this in my backyard is pure bliss. 🙂
“Z” at Zeebra Designs put out a call for Timeout for Art. Here is a pencil sketch inspired by a recent visitor to the turkey vulture nest. What happens when a wood duck invades a vulture nest? Video tomorrow.
It’s Tuesday, time for a Turkey Vulture (TV) update.
The turkey vulture chicks have grown rapidly their first 4 weeks. They are beginning to get their juvenile plumage. Notice the dark brown, nearly black, feathers showing up in the wings and down their backs.
Capturing pictures of the turkey vulture chicks in this deep nest requires some old school photography techniques. Everything is set manually. I preset the focus, set the aperture, shutter, and flash. Then I hold the camera over the entrance to the nest and take a series of shots. I can’t see anything, even if I were to stick my head into the dark deep nest. After the flash fires the first time, the chicks begin their eerie vocalizations. My friend, Rhythm, over at Reading With Rhythm calls turkey vultures “spooky birds.” The ominous sound made by the chicks, plays into that role perfectly.
Turkey vultures do not have voice boxes. They only grunt and hiss. The eerie ghostly sound in the video is the sound the turkey vulture chicks make. No chirpy chickies here.
This little guy was all sprawled out on the nest floor. Must have been a busy day.
The chicks begin hissing a warning…stay away…they hiss.
The turkey vulture chicks are about 3 weeks old. I was amazed at the lack of odor from the nest cavity opening. Previously, when a parent was in the nest, the smell was malodorous. This time, however, with only the chicks, I was shocked at the lack of stench when capturing this image. Curious because it looks like it should smell bad.