Francis Harper’s Okefenokee Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture soaring in a blue sky over the Suwannee River Sill; Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. November 14, 2021 ©williamwisephoto.com

​One bird always guaranteed to be seen in the Okefenokee Swamp is the Turkey Vulture. In the hot summer months when most birds are hiding in the shade, or in the late fall and winter when other birds have migrated on, the Turkey Vulture is often the only bird seen circling overhead. The eBird frequency chart shows a thick blue line every month through the year, graphically representing its continuous presence, and showing it be more frequently observed than its cousin, the Black Vulture.

Even in the days of naturalists Albert Wright and Francis Harper (1913), the Turkey Vulture was a common sight. They write in The Auk, “TURKEY VULTURE; ‘Buz- zard.’- Common throughout the swamp. The natives have never found its nest. They told us, however, of several roosts, including one at Mud Valley (south of Billy’s Lake) and another in the dead tops of some cy- presses in a small ‘head’ on Floyd’s Island Prairie. It is astonishing how soon the Buzzards appear over a spot where an alligator has been shot, and how quickly they transform its carcass into a bare skeleton.”


Wright, Albert and Francis Harper. A Biological Reconnaissance of the Okefinokee Swamp: The Birds. The Auk, Vol. 30, No. 4 (Oct., 1913), pp. 477-505 Published by: Oxford University Press.

1 Comment

  1. Turkey Vultures may be among the “ugly” birds but they are beautiful in flight and so very needed in their role of cleaning up the remains of predator and road kills. God adapted them perfectly for this job.

    Liked by 1 person

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