Avian Scavengers

Last week a friend told me about a road-killed deer in a field, visible and accessible from a secondary road. A mature bald eagle, crows, vultures and coyotes were feeding on the carcass at one time or another, so I visited the site hoping to capture some scavengers at work.

On the first trip, a dense fog limited visibility but the chatter of crows around the carcass gave me the approximate location.


The next day was clear and bright and by mid morning the site was a chaotic scene of swirling vultures and noisy crows, about 10 birds in all.



There was obviously a hierarchy among the vultures because some were forced off the carcass or to the fringe to wait their turn.





There are nearly one million deer in New York state and large numbers of deer inhabit heavily populated areas, so deer-vehicle collisions are a routine occurrence. 70,000 to 80,000 deer-vehicle collisions occur annually (and that is just the number reported as insurance claims). Property damage averages several thousand dollars per incident.

Photos by NB Hunter. All Rights Reserved.


4 thoughts on “Avian Scavengers

  1. Spectacular shoot! What an opportunity! I have loved vultures for a long time… cleansers of the earth. To me especially, they are a sign to “glide and soar” in life, leaving the carcass of troubles behind. 🙂

    • Well, we seem to have something in common that isn’t a mainstream interest. I’ve always been intrigued by opportunistic scavengers and the sequence of events that unfolds when a carcass appears. And then there’s my flight envy when I watch a huge bird soaring for miles with barely a wing beat!

  2. I seem to remember reading that some country (Africa? India?) was running into problems with disease because poison put out for coyotes (or some other critters) was also killing the vultures. I do wish my memory was a bit better on details. I can relate to that flight envy! 🙂

    • I don’t know the specifics on the case(s) you’re alluding to, but problems from poisons/toxins have plagued critters ever since we invented chemical applications as remedies for all that troubles us. Poison bait is a nasty, non-selective from of animal control. Thanks for the feedback Gunta.

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