5/28/13: The turkey vultures have abandoned the barn this year. We are shutting the cam and chat down on Friday, May 31st, at 8am CST. We hope to see everyone, especially the vultures, back next spring.
4/30/13: The vultures laid their first egg on April 24th. An April 25, a male vulture entered the barn and destroyed the egg. Read more about it here: Avian Infanticide. We don't know whether they will be back to the barn. They were seen briefly on the 29th:
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Chuck writes: "These photos of "our" adolescent turkey vultures were taken at about 3:30 p.m. on September 8, 2012. They are now able to fly very capably with strong wingbeats, but still are staying close to their "home territory". Presumably their parents still return to the nesting area to feed them. One would guess that the young birds get some valuable flying practice following each feeding and emulating the departing parent / however opportunity has not yet presented for me to actually observe such.
9/6/12: Good news! Chuck has photos of both young vultures outside the barn: http://www.flickr.com/photos/johncarton/sets/72157631424529070/
9/2/12: The second Turkey vulture fledged yesterday. Chuck got photos of LB outside the barn.
8/27/12: The first Turkey vulture fledged on 8/26 at about 10:27 CDT. Here is a video. Fledge occurs at 48:38.
7/23/12: Both TV are back. This video shows both young and a parent. The young TV are real handfuls! I wonder when TV vocalization turns into the hissing and grunting of adults.
7/20/12: We are aware that a young Turkey vulture has gone missing from the loft again. It is hiding under the barn where no one is able to get to it. We are watching to see if the little Turkey vulture will come out when Mom or Dad arrive for feeding time.
Hay was put below the loft door to cushion falls and the missing vulture appears fine - it was certainly able to get to the relative safety of the underbarn quickly enough. We'll keep everyone posted.
Here is a video of a feeding from yesterday. Something about the adult - the long legs, maybe - make me think of storks. For those of you who don't watch this nest on a regular basis, LB or 'Lilbit' is what everyone calls the smaller TV that fell out of the barn earlier this week.
7/16/2012: The chicks are now developing dark pinfeathers on their underside wingtips (noticeable only when they raise their wings high) . They will soon have prominently dark wingtips as the chicks in this photo taken at this barn loft nesting site on July 6, 2009 TV FlickrThis 2012 hatch was a good two weeks later than any of the prior three years at this site, and developmentally the chicks appear to be following that pattern.
If you are interested in viewing the Turkey Vultures in previous years, please check out these photosets by John Carton: Turkey Vulture Photos
If you'd like to talk and share information about the Turkey Vultures, check out our forum thread: TV Forum Thread
Egg and Hatch Info - all times CDT:
Egg 1 Laid: 5/9 10:25pm
Egg 2 Laid: 5/12 5:13am
Incubation started 5/13.
Both eggs hatched on 6/19 at 2:20am & 11:47am.
Our regular watchers have been able to tell Mom and Dad apart for a long time.
Mom has a smooth head.
Dad has a line or brow.
For past videos, check out our Turkey Vulture playlist:
Like Bald eagles and Peregrine falcons, Turkey vulture young are altricial. They will fledge at nine to ten weeks of age, although the family will remain together until fall.
Turkey vultures are carrion eaters and, unlike most birds, have a keen sense of smell. They are attracted to the smell of ethyl mercaptan, a gas produced by the beginning of decay in animal tissue. The have an interestingly gross defense mechanism: disturb a Turkey vulture, and you might get vomited on. The vomit is disgusting (think about what they eat) and highly acidic.
For more about Turkey vultures, follow these links: