Vultures: a Mating Pair

The pair of Turkey Vultures that I see in my travels arrived from their southern winter range a couple of weeks ago. As mentioned in last week’s post, an old abandoned barn is a favorite roosting and perching site. I’ve encountered them there twice, warming in the mid-morning sun after a bitterly cold night.

Yesterday morning was my most recent encounter. The male was perched on one end of the roof, the female (shown here) on the opposite end. I stopped the truck a short distance away to observe, thinking about flight images with the blue sky as a backdrop. The female was clear of obstructions and afforded me the best opportunity for action shots, so I focused on her and waited.

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Just as I started to lose patience and question my decision to watch vultures rather than search for eagles, the male started to grow restless as well. I was sure the pair was about to take flight. Instead, I had the rare opportunity to witness and document the breeding behavior of vultures from close range.

The initial phase was hilarious and totally unexpected. The restless male started inching his way along the ridge line of the roof, occasionally having to spread his wings and steady himself, like a tight-rope walker. I was sure he was thinking flight, but he had something else in mind: procreation! His approach had been slow, steady and nonchalant, as if he was testing the receptivity of his mate.

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She never moved from her original perch, suggesting a willingness to cooperate. And she did. The huge dark wings of the male, spread above his mate and contrasting with a robin-egg-blue backdrop was spectacular.

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Photos by NB Hunter (3/24/2018). © All Rights Reserved.