Thursday, July 13, 2017

Chick in a Tree

During the first week of June 2015 I was following the boundary line between two properties; the boundary was easy to follow since there was a line of large old trees that had once constituted a fencerow between the tracts. Now the fields on either side of the line have reverted to forest –
From Penn Pilot

From Google Earth

A large bird flying low from one of those trees caught my attention; it quickly became apparent that this was a turkey vulture. Although turkey vultures do feed in dense woodland, it’s very difficult for them to fly between closely spaced trees.

Out of curiosity I walked toward the area where the vulture had taken flight – and there was a large tree containing several big holes. One of the openings was at waist level and provided a good view inside of what proved to be a totally hollow tree.

Turkey vultures are known to nest in hollow trees as well as rock crevasses and sure enough there was a turkey vulture nestling inside the hollow tree –

In 2016 I didn’t get back to the area, but in mid-June of this year I was nearby again and decided to take a look in the tree. A hiss greeted my peek into the hole in the tree trunk – a hiss from a nestling in the tree. This was another young turkey vulture, obviously older than the one I’d seen in 2015 –

There was a camera trap in the car, I decided to set it to capture photos of the adult coming to feed the young one and so mounted it on a nearby tree. When I retrieved the camera trap a couple of weeks later there were photos of the adult on the tree -
And entering the cavity-
And of the adult feeding the nestling (its white down can be seen in the hole) -
At this point the nestling had a face only a mother could love -
It was rapidly becoming fully feathered and would probably leave the nest before I had a chance to return, so I removed the camera trap -
A vulture nest I found in 1980 was also along a boundary line; that nest was in a small cave in a rock outcrop. The young birds were far back in the cave, small tufts of white fluff –

There's a real disincentive to entering a cave containing nestling vultures since their only defense is to regurgitate their most recent meal - ugh!

No, turkey vultures don't only nest along boundary lines; it’s just that walking boundary lines takes a person to places they might never visit otherwise.


The Furry Gnome said...

Fascinating! We have lots of Turkey Vultures, but I've never seen evidence of them nesting. I'm sure they do though. Great to see the chick. I also enjoy exploring forest ares that still have evidence of old open fields, fencerows and such. Fun to try and 'read' the landscape.

Pat Tillett said...

I've never run across one of their nests. Very interesting. You really do put your "trail cam" to good use.

eileeninmd said...

Hello, what a great find. The vulture nest is cool. I like the baby vulture photos, it is cute. Great post and photos. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

♥ Anni ♥ said...

I'm an avid birder, and this was really a special treat!'ve manage to record the whole birth and fledgling. Lovin' it.

And, if you'd like, do stop by and add your link to my birding blog, I'd Rather B Birdin'.