I’ve got the chance to visit the ‘VINS‘ raptor and wildlife center in Vermont, U.S.A. where I was able to see and study some Turkey Vultures from a closer distance. I wanted to do a scratchboard of this species to portraiture the often unseen, but distinct beauty of the bird. I was drawn to the composition showing the bird from an interesting angle with all the wing and tail feathers in focus, some fluffy down feathers peaking through here and there on the birds back. Furthermore I attempted to display the vulture in a kind of spotlight situation to increase the overall effect of the display.
The Turkey Vultures are such a fascinating species as they provide an interesting look into the life of a scavenger and the bird family tree. I learned at the 'VINS' center, that recent DNA studies revealed that these vultures are closely tied to the hawk and eagle family, though significant evolutionary differences have made them the great scavengers they are today.
These large dark raptors, with the featherless red head have a huge wingspan and are the most abundant vulture in the Americas. They inhabit a wide range of different landscapes from woodland to open habitats and also man-maid structures. They breed nearly across the whole United States and parts of southern Canada with generally non-migratory populations from the southeastern U.S. to the tropics. On the other hand, the northern breeding populations migrate south to the southern U.S. during winter. It is also another interesting fact, that the Turkey Vultures possesses a way more developed sense of smell than many other species, since they scavenge for food and search for carrion. So they often guide (involuntarily) other species like Black Vultures to find food, too.
You can learn more about Turkey Vultures and the work of the 'VINS' raptor center here:
VINS Nature Center