A Golden Eagle wheels low looking for an easy meal at a banding station - Photo by Mike Werner  

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HAWK CLIFF FOUNDATION

Hawkwatching

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Species Info

Migration #'s

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Species Info   Next Species

Turkey Vulture
(Carthartes aura)

Migration Timeframe:

Migration for Turkey Vultures begins mid September , albeit slowly. We seldom count any TV's observed early in September given these are typically local groups moving around within the hawkwatch area...and not really migrating anywhere. However, in the last few days of September numbers increase rapidly, peaking during the first two weeks of October. They continue to migrate throughout October, and into November and a few have even been observed in December.



Year

Peak Week

Avg

2002-2007 Oct 13-19 4,630

Year

Peak Week

Count

2008 Oct 13-19 8,790

Year

Earliest Obs

Count

Year

Latest Obs

Count

2002-2007 Sep 02 2005 19 2002-2007 Dec 01 2007 2
2008 Sep 22 9 2008 Nov 22 2

 

Where to Watch:

The Turkey Vultures tend to soar in large kettles in thermals forming over flat farmland to the east and north of the hawkwatch. They're very large dark birds and easy to spot spiralling upward, gaining lift and then power gliding off westward to the next thermal. Experienced observers will look for the flight lines being used by the Turkey Vultures to spot smaller raptors that are moving with them. This can be a big help when the skies are pure blue and there's not a cloud in sight!!


High Counts:

The Turkey Vulture continues to see a serious upward trend in yearly counts. In 2008 the total continued to climb with 22,065...with a new record 1-week count of 8,790 set during their normal peak week of Oct 13-19.


1-Year 

Count

1-Month 

Count

1-Week

Count

2006

25,567

2006

25,567

Oct 13-19 2008

8,790

1-Day

Count

1-Hour

Count

Oct 15 2006

5,479 Oct 24 2006 1,700

 

Yearly Totals:

The 2008 yearly total was slightly ahead of last years final tally and exceeded both the 10-Year and the 5-Year averages. (averages are based on 1998-2007 and 2003-2007 counts).


Year

Count

Year

Count

Year

Count

1995 2,581 2000 6,294 2005 14,280
1996 4,106 2001 6,196 2006 25,567
1997 4,044 2002 9,189 2007 21,315
1998 2,902 2003 14,303 2008 22,065
1999 7,225 2004 10,156 2009 N/A

10-Yr Avg

5-Yr Avg

11,717

17,124



Interesting Facts:

  • Most TV's winter in subtropical and tropical areas south of the U.S. to central. South America, and on Caribbean islands. Occasionally will winter north of North Carolina.

  • In 14 years, 1995 to 2008, Turkey Vultures (149,968) represent 16% of all migrating raptors IDd  (928,357) at Hawk Cliff.

  • Sexes similar in size, but males average slightly larger than females.

  • Note - resident birds in southern Florida average smaller than northern birds.

  • Hunts in groups or singly using olfaction (i.e. its sense of smell).

  • A group of vultures is typically called a "venue".

 

 

 

 


Turkey Vulture taking a break - Photo by Tom Bolohan

Click on chart image for enlarged version

Click on chart image for enlarged version

Turkey Vulture crusing low - Photo by Shay Redmond

 


 

 

 

 

Created: 2007-04-27   2007 Hawk Cliff Foundation  -  All rights reserved