Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Watch for Vultures with wingtags!

Hi All,
I'm the wildlife biologist for the Yurok Tribe in Klamath, CA. Wanted to get some help from all you vulture enthusiasts out there. We are running a CA condor reintroduction feasibility study and are tagging turkey vultures as part of our project. Please report yellow wingtags with black numbers to We need to know when and where you saw the bird and the number on the tag. Pictures are great too. Check out our project at
Thanks for the great blog Ali!

Chris West

(posted by the moderator for this great project)

Friday, August 28, 2009

The 2009 Vulture Migration has begun

Saw 5 vultures kettling over the South Fork Kern River yesterday evening. And so it begins!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

2008 Kern Valley Vulture Watch

Turkey Vultures have started to migrate from their breeding grounds. Have you seen any in the KERN RIVER VALLEY?
Where, When, and How Many?
Did they just fly through?
Did they spend the night?
What type of habitat did they stay in?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

AMAZING 4-5 thousand Vultures

Find 4-5 thousand vultures continuing their migration tomorrow morning September 26th. The vultures came into Audubon's Kern River Preserve in Weldon tonight. They will begin taking off tomorrow morning starting around 7:30 and ending around 10 a.m. if they remain true to form.

Anyone in the area, this is a sight that seasoned vulture watchers have never experienced.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Virtual Vulture Watch

If you live in the Kern River Valley - from Johnsondale to Walker Basin, we would love to hear about your vulture sightings. You don't need to answer all of the questions, just the one's in bold face.

When? Date - Time of Day
How Many? (approximate)
Flying? (yes or no)
Roosting? (yes or no)
Feeding? (yes or no)
Direction of flight?

Are you in another area along the west coast in the migration path? What is the flight path from nesting to wintering of the west coast Turkey Vultures? Please answer the above questions about your sightings of migrating turkey vultures from Alaska to Argentina.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

13th Annual Kern Valley Turkey Vulture Festival

Kern Valley Turkey Vulture Festival - September 28-30, 2007

The schedule for the vulture festival is shaping up with some fun new events added this year. Sierra Vista Restaurant near the best South Fork Vulture Roost will serve a special RoadKill Quiche and Compost Fruit Salad for the vultures and substitute fresh ingredients for humans who would like to enjoy breakfast while watching the spectacle of the morning vulture lift off. In the evening they will serve vulture stew for those who want to watch the vulture drop in. Additional chairs will be set up outside their patio, so there should be room for everyone.
Several field trips are planned and are filling up fast so reserve your spot now.

View the continuously updated schedule.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Kern Valley Schools Vulture Watch

Hi Kids

Have you seen any vultures lately?
When did you see them?
Where are/were they?
What are/were they doing?
How many vultures did you see?
Did you see any other birds?
How about other animals?

We would love to hear from all the local schools. Let us know what school you are with, your grade and your teachers name along with your first name on your post.

What is a vulture?

Vultures are large birds with featherless heads designed for eating carrion.

New World Vultures

Learn about Turkey Vultures at the 13th Annual Turkey Vulture Festival on Sept. 28-30

Taxonomic Classification

Kingdom: Metazoa (=Animalia) Phylum: Chordata Class: Aves (birds)

New World Vultures are similar to Old World Vultures in their habit of eating carrion and bare heads.


Current Classification

Order: Falconiformes Family: Cathartidae - New World Vultures

Black Vulture - Coragyps atratus
Turkey Vulture - Cathartes aura
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture - Cathartes burrovianus
Greater Yellow-headed Vulture - Cathartes melambrotus
California Condor - Gymnogyps californianus
King Vulture - Sarcoramphus papa
Andean Condor - Vultur gryphus

New World Vultures are medium to large-sized birds that are adapted to a diet of dead animals. They have weak feet with blunt talons and bare heads. The California Condor only lives on the west coast and the Black Vulture only lives in the east. The Turkey Vulture lives and migrates throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Turkey Vulture - Cathartes aura

In California vultures can be found all year along the coast and are only absent from the interior during short periods in winter. They are particularly fond of large trees where they like to roost overnight.

The Turkey Vulture is 25 inches long and has a wingspan of six feet. They are large dark brown birds with silvery flight feathers. The juveniles have gray-skinned heads and grayish bills and the adults have red-skinned bald heads and yellow bills.

California Condor - Gymnogyps californianus

Condors are rare in California and Arizona throughout the year. They are found foraging and roosting along the foothills and mountains in the central California coast and in the Grand Canyon.

The California Condor is the largest land bird in North America. It has a wingspan up to 9.5', unlike the light 3 pound Turkey Vulture, the condor is a heavy bird weighing up to 24 lbs. It begins to breed at 6 years and can live as long as 45 years.

The 7 species of New World vultures are in the family Cathartidae. They are in the order Falconiformes for now, but scientists are trying to determine who vultures are most closely related to. For a few years they thought they were most closely related to storks, but now they are not so sure. Recently they moved them back to the order of falconiformes but kept them in the family Cathartidae but this most likely is not the end of the story. The 15 species of Old World Vultures from Europe, Africa, and Asia are in the family Accipitridae. Old World vultures are more closely related to hawks, where New World Vultures are not.
In Europe a buzzard is a hawk where in North America many people call vultures buzzards.
Confusing isn't it?
One thing is for sure, without vultures the land would be full of rotting dead things. Vultures are the janitors of the World and serve an extremely important function.