Turkey Vulture Photograph and Sound Recordings
New Material Added At End Of Page For Both TV and Black Vulture, May 2000
The Turkey Vulture (TV) is one of two vultures found in Arizona. The other vulture is the Black Vulture. The Adult TV has a red head and the juvenile has a black head (however, the overall sizes of the two birds are the same). It is generally known that the TV has a "hiss" vocalization. The hiss is used when competing for access to food or tree roost space with other vultures. For several years we have been trying to record this sound. In 1998 one of the captive (and non-releaseable) birds housed at Liberty Wildlife in Scottsdale, AZ decided to bond with one of the animal caregivers, Anne. This bird is named Bailey and whenever Anne would enter his cage Bailey would perform what appears to be a courtship display for Anne. Bailey would stretch out his wings as far as he could (because of an injury Bailey has restricted wing extention) cause his neck to expand, and put his head down on his chest. Then he would rotate in place to show himself off. During this display he makes a loud "Grrrr" sound. This courtship sound was recorded June 6, 1998. So instead of the hiss, a completely new sound was discovered. After the courtship sound was recorded a new TV was received by Liberty Wildlife. This bird was easily agitated by entering his cage or looking directly at the bird. When agitated he would hiss and sometimes "growl". The growl was similar, but different, from the courtship sound. Both the hiss and the growl were recorded. Because of high background sound levels outside, the hissing bird was moved inside to improve the ambient noise level. This only partially succeded. There is still a lot of background noise from refrigerators and air conditioning units. The hissing/growling bird was recorded on August 11, 1998.
download Turkey Vulture "courtship" mpeg3 recording (tv_court.mp3)
download Turkey Vulture "hiss and growl" mpeg3 recording (tv_hs_gr.mp3)
New material section:
Photo of Black Vulture by Earle Robinson
Beginning in 1997 we have been trying to record Turkey Vulture and Black Vultures at a dead animal found in the field. We finally succeeded in late April 2000. We came upon a dead coyote on a remote highway in southern Arizona with both species of vultures at the carcass. When this page loaded it automatically tried to play a short selection of TV wing beats, TV hiss, TV sneeze-hiss, and Black Vulture "chuffs" or "woofs". Both birds make a wide variety of vocalizations and only the most prominent sounds are presented here. In addition to the background audio it is possible to download an mp3 selection that is different, but also contains TV hisses and BV "chuffs". Both birds make a lot of feather noises at the carcass and most of this has been edited out because it is easily confused with vocalizations. There was never more than one Black Vulture at the carcass but, there were typically four Turkey vultures at the carcass most of the time. The recording was made by "remote micing", the Sennheiser MKH70 shotgun microphone was located 100' away from the DAT recorder. It was allowed to run for almost two hours. It was necessary to move away from the recorder an additional 300 feet and observe the birds from inside a vehicle before they felt safe enough to return. After two previous attempts to record at dead animals, this is the first successful attempt.
download Turkey Vulture and Black Vulture background sound mp3 (bvtv_bak.mp3)
download Turkey Vulture and Black Vulture mp3 example 2 recording (bv_tv_1.mp3)
download mpeg3 decoder
Copyright Greg Clark, 1999