He Sees Dead Things…

We had a visitor recently, who can see and smell dead things, but he doesn’t have the “sixth sense” and it’s not ghosts he sees. Well, I assume he doesn’t see ghosts:~) .

He visited two days in a row and sat in the same pine tree in our yard. I have to admit, he made me rather nervous. I could see him very well from our screened porch. The way he sat, kind of hunched and staring towards me, made me think of Poe’s poem, The Raven:~)


I hope you can see from the picture, he’s a bit disconcerting and maybe even scary looking with his red and featherless head. However, this is exactly how I knew what kind of bird he is – a Turkey Vulture.

Turkey Vultures aren’t the most attractive looking birds, but they serve a very important role in nature. Without them, we might smell some really bad odors and even be exposed to dangerous bacteria.

Sometimes, Turkey Vultures are confused with the closely related Black Vulture. Both fall into the category of raptors in that they have talons, curved beaks and eat meat. However, the Black Vultures will kill prey as well as feed on dead animals.

Turkey Vultures don’t kill prey. Instead, they use their sight and excellent sense of smell, the largest of all birds, to find food as much as a mile away.

While lightweights at 2-4 pounds, these master flyers have a 6 foot wingspan. They are able to conserve their energy by using thermal currents to “float” in the skies, avoiding having to flap their wings as much as other birds.

They also mate for life and can live a long life. The average age is around 20 years, which is LONG for a bird. (source: Audubon Kern River Preserve)

buzzard_480So, even though he looks rather ugly, we should appreciate the Turkey Vulture. He does what none of us want to do; he cleans up dead things and, in turn, the dead provide the vulture and his babies with life.

I have to admit there’s something sort of beautiful about this. It proves again that everything has a purpose in life. And so, I leave you with this quote from The Lion King:

“Mufasa: “Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. As king, you need to understand that balance and respect all the creatures, from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope.”

Simba: “But, Dad, don’t we eat the antelope?”

Mufasa: “Yes, Simba, but let me explain. When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass. And so we are all connected in the great Circle of Life.” ~ The Lion King —Mufasa and Simba

Turkey Vultures are part of that “Circle of Life” all around us.

Want to know more about Turkey Vultures and some of their more unusual habits, go here:

Comment Box Questions:

Has a Turkey Vulture visited your house?

How did the Turkey Vulture get his name?

Why is it a bad idea to scare a vulture? (Ok, you’ll have research this, but it is funny:~)

13 comments on “He Sees Dead Things…

  1. Lynn says:

    Well I see from Google that scaring them will make them vomit! Wouldn’t want that! Yikes – I do see the value in what their role in nature is, but I hope one doesn’t visit me. 🙂

    • Sara says:

      @ Lynn — Wow. You and Linda are fast. I just put this post up. You’re right and it’s one reason you don’t want to scare the vulture:~) Fortunately, I was far enough away when I took the picture because he wasn’t really happy with me and my flashing camera:~)

      As I said, his visit did sort of creep me out. Fortunately, he only stayed a few days. On the other hand, I was curious to know more about him.

  2. Linda says:

    Sara, I have indeed been visited by a Turkey Vulture. There was a dead squirrel in the street in front of our house. The Turkey Vulture carried it into our yard to dine. Apparently it was too fresh for him and he left most of it there for me to dispose of.

    OK, I read about why you shouldn’t scare a vulture. Agreed!

    • Sara says:

      @ Linda — What you said is true about the squirrel. I know Turkey Vultures have some unusual habits beyond eating the dead:~) Even so, they are fascinating in their own way and it is amazing how “nature” provides for all God’s creatures:~)

  3. jc says:

    I guess that’s why you don’t see many pet vultures!

  4. Jean Sampson says:

    We see groups of them circling around in the sky and we know that there is something dead on the ground below where they are circling. We also see them taking care of road kill—-sort of a fast foods for turkey vultures. I am glad that they do their job well and am also glad that I don’t have to get up close and personal with one 🙂 And I would NEVER annoy one! 🙂

    • Sara says:

      @ Jean — THANK YOU for bring some wonderful humor into the Turkey Vulture post. I’m not sure it was the best idea to write a post about vultures, but your comment was wonderful. Thank you for stopping by:~)

      • Jean Sampson says:

        I think it was a wonderful subject to write about, Sara! Just think what a stinky world we would live in if they were not around doing their jobs! 🙂

        • Sara says:

          @ Jean — I do agree with you about how vultures help keep the world clean and a lot less stinky. Having the vulture visit us helped me learn a lot about them.

  5. janice says:

    Where do you people live?! I am so jealous – such wonderful, interesting creatures! Your photography’s stunning, Sara, and your writing’s so clever; I didn’t get the photo till I scrolled and was intrigued and drawn right in, keen to find out more about the paranormal powers of the person I thought you were describing!

    We don’t have any here in Scotland, but we do have big black carrion crows.

    Love the Lion King quote; I’m immensely proud of how much integrity my kids have, and I truly believe that raising them on a diet of films like this helped. We’re a family of unashamed feel good film lovers!

  6. Hilary says:

    Hi Sara – what an informative post – I learnt to appreciate vultures while living in South Africa .. if there was a kill – the birds ruled the skies and we could find the kill …

    Nature is extraordinary … and vultures are a necessary part of it … I wrote (August 2011) about the Wild Turkey and the film that was made – and which I see you commented on – we do learn so much from nature and how each microscopic part is so important to life. The Lion King quote brings that home ..

    Lovely post – and great learning tool .. cheers Hilary

    • Sara says:

      @ Hilary — Yes, the circle of life is sometimes difficult to witness, but also beautiful. Like you said, the vulture does play a very important role in nature.

      Thanks for stopping by. Cheers to you!

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