Kingsport, TN Warriors Path State Park
March 2, 2008
Vultures have no feathers on their head to prevent getting blood and other putrid, decaying body parts and fluids from matting up the feathers. Many people are repulsed by the sight of vultures at a roadkill, but they do a very important job of cleaning up carrion. Our world would be an unpleasant place without scavengers such as this bird. Black Vultures have a black head and a shorter tail than the Turkey Vulture. According to my Audubon Bird Book, Black Vultures do not find carrion by smell, they use their sense of vision to find food, either by spotting it from the sky or seeing Turkey Vultures flying to the dead animal. See the previous photo for a view of a turkey vulture.
Vultures often spread their wings to warm them in the sun while perching. One Halloween morning a few years ago I saw several vultures sitting on the barn at the property where I teach my outdoor classes, they looked pretty spooky with their outstretched wings! They have a 54 inch wingspan, so they are much smaller than the Turkey Vultures. However, 54" is still pretty big for a bird!
Wow, what a treat it was to see nearly 100 Black Vultures sunning themselves and bathing in the lake at Warrior's Path SP! I was amazed to be able to get so close to this bird without making it nervous. It is easy to see the adaptations it has for eating carrion --- a hooked beak and featherless head.