Friday, July 4, 2014


A young raccoon got run over on the road in front of our house sometime early Wednesday morning.  I found it and relocated it to the backyard near the edge of the field, in hopes of attracting some vultures.  I then came into the house to clean up and change into cooler clothes.  As I headed back to the bedroom, I glanced out the window to see why the Blue Jays at the feeder were making so much noise.  Turkey Vultures had already arrived and were using the woodpecker tree as a perch to look over the potential meal.

Most birds aren’t bothered by my watching from behind the window glass.  The Turkey Vultures not only noticed me, they were uncomfortable with my presence.  In a great flapping of wings they left the dead tree stubs …

… and moved to the barn roof.

They landed with their backs to the offered food item and stretched their wings out in the morning sun.

It was not until I finally got to the back window that I found out that a Turkey Vulture had already found the raccoon.  I had left the carcass in the short grass, but the vulture moved it down into a more secluded location.  It fed undisturbed for several minutes.

Then a Black Vulture showed up. 

The Black Vulture took possession of the raccoon.  The Turkey Vultures stayed close, but didn’t try to reclaim their meal.  Each time a Turkey Vulture moved too near the raccoon, the Black Vulture would take a step forward and the interloper would back off.

After a few minutes, the Black Vulture moved the carcass back out into the short grass.  I think the tall grass was blocking its view of the Turkey Vultures and it relocated to an area where it could watch and eat at the same time.

Black Vultures historically ranged south of Blue Jay Barrens, but they have been gradually increasing their range northward.  While they were once a rarity here, they have now become a regular feature.

The Black Vulture finally became the undisputed owner of the meal.  Most of the Turkey Vultures took off to hunt for food elsewhere. Except for one that parked itself in front of the Black Vulture and just watched it eat.

The quiet intimidation must have worked, because the Black Vulture finally flew off.  The persistent Turkey Vulture then spent a quiet few hours finishing off the raccoon.

By early afternoon the Turkey Vulture had completed its meal.  It took wing and disappeared.

Nothing left but skin and bones.  It’s amazing how efficiently these birds can strip a carcass of its meat. 

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