Turkey Vultures Galore

Yesterday I travelled around northeast Alberta with Dr. Wayne Nelson, a retired Alberta Fish and Wildlife biologist, checking on Turkey Vultures. I had contacted Dr. Nelson earlier this year to report a pair of Turkey Vultures at an abandoned building 30 miles or so north of our house. He emailed back to ask if I’d like to join him on his July travels checking abandoned farm buildings for nests, and I said yes!

We left at 10:30 am, and our first stop was at the house I reported. Unfortunately, nothing was there. We stopped at five other sites where vultures had been reported this year, and also at some nesting sites reported in previous years, but disappointed again!

While driving to the next spot, we saw four adult vultures, but no chicks. Then, at the next abandoned building we visited, I was very happy and surprised to have my first looks at two young Turkey Vultures! Their hissing is quite loud and if you don’t know where it is coming from, it is quite unnerving, and not many things scare me.

The next two buildings we visited each had two young vultures. Many of the buildings had Barn Swallows nests in them, and one had an Eastern Phoebe nest. These old buildings are very important if they can sustain Turkey Vultures, Barn Swallows, and Eastern Phoebes nests all under one roof.

In total, Dr. Nelson and I saw seven adult Turkey Vultures and six young vultures. Dr. Nelson estimates that the chicks are about 35 to 40 days old. Today was just a scouting trip, and in a few day Dr. Nelson will go back with a licensed Turkey Vulture bander and wing tag them. Thank you very much to Dr. Nelson for taking me along.

I had a wonderful time looking at the vultures, and hope to do it again some time!

My first look at young Turkey Vultures,

At the second house with chicks,

An adult,

A house with a Turkey Vulture in the background,

Here is a video of the vultures hissing,

Also, Dr. Nelson is imprinting a young Peregrine Falcon for falconry, and it rides along in his car, in a box. Before yesterday I had never seen a Peregrine Falcon in real life, so it was very entertaining having one in the backseat.

The falcon is 26 days old,

Prairie Falcon Encounter

My mom and I were on our way home from town this afternoon, (we were getting the exhibit hall and grounds ready for the fair which starts on Tuesday), and she was driving while I was partially asleep.

Almost 20 feet from our driveway, my mother saw a raptor holding something in its talons and realized it wasn’t the usual Red-tailed Hawk. Her excited yell woke me up and when I looked, the bird was flying across the road in front of the truck and then landed on a fence post. When we arrived to the house I got my scope, new camera and my other camera and went outside.

With my scope I could see the bird really well, and identified it as a Prairie Falcon, which surprised me, eating a female Red-winged Blackbird. Prairie Falcons aren’t very common in Alberta and most of the recent reports on eBird are in Southern Alberta. I was very lucky to see one, and it’s always fun to add another lifer to your list if you don’t have to travel to far.

The live Red-winged Blackbird in the pics is probably the mate to the one killed.

All my photos are digiscoped,

Prairie Falcon and Red-winged Blackbird,

Feathers on Friday

My parents are giving me some of my birthday presents early this year because some of them will be useful on my trip to Ontario. One of the presents is a Canon PowerShot ELPH 100 HS. It takes great macro shots and is great for digiscoping! Here are some photos taken with my new camera today.

Blue Morning Glory,


Digiscoped American Goldfinch at my feeders,

Feathers on Friday

I’m sorry I haven’t been posting lately. I’ve been helping my dad and brothers with the haying and also getting ready for the local agricultural fair at the end of the month. I’m making displays of pressed flowers and grasses to enter in the exhibit hall.
A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird on a Maltese Cross In our front yard,

Feathers on Friday

The Barn Swallows and some Tree Swallows nesting around our yard fledged yesterday, so it has been very entertaining to watch them today.

Tree Swallows on a power line last night,

Fledgling Barn Swallow taking a rest from flying,