Anhinga? No. Turkey Vulture

This past weekend I was surprised to see a turkey vulture acting more then a little bit odd. I’m not at all sure what this one was up to, but it definitely was behaving in a strange manner.

Vultures don’t normally fly low over the water. Vultures don’t normally land on a stump in the salt marsh. Vultures don’t normally hold their wings out Anhinga style.

The Anhinga is a water bird that needs to dry off it’s wings after it is done swimming around under water after fish. The Vulture does not go after fish or go into the water. It’s possible this Vulture was simply trying to warm itself up in the sun, but I don’t ever remember seeing one do this before.

I have also included a photo of mine from the files showing the classic Anhinga ‘wing drying’ pose for reference.

Turkey Vulture Not an Anhinga

Turkey Vulture Not an Anhinga

36 thoughts on “Anhinga? No. Turkey Vulture

  1. Here in Florida we do see turkey vultures in watery areas…not wading or anything..but flying around the glades near areas where water birds are. I have seen them standing on rocks with their wings spread as you show as well. Birds take on wing spread postures facing the sun for other things besides drying…like thermoregulation and heating up bugs and parasites so they will jump around and the bird can pluck them out easier.

    I am particularly fond of turkey vultures and marvel a bit that they have such a scary looking bill and yet have such warm and friendly looking eyes…kind of hazel in color. Here in Florida the commonest two are the turkey vulture and the black vulture, both of which are interesting and have a personality of their own.

    • Judy . That was interesting. I live in Florida too, but have never known that or seen the vultures doing that. I learned something new here.

      • One area I do recall seeing the turkey vultures standing on rocks with the wing spread posture facing the sun was out at Fakahatchee Strand. Before I started researching why herons do that, I thought it was just to dry feathers but there are a variety of reasons it seems. That area around Tamiami Trail, Big Cypress Preserve, and Fakahatchee have a good display of the turkey vultures and black vultures even more so. I like watching for those striking red bills.

    • We had a few that day who were acting particularly peculiar and of course having vultures circling very low over your head makes you wonder if they know something that you don’t. 😉
      I don’t normally see vultures land out in the salt marsh and just hang out for a while and then spread their wings like that. It of course was not drying off because it wasn’t wet. Quite likely thermoregulating as you suggest and as I suspect this GBH is doing while in the classic ‘flashing’ pose:
      https://phillanoue.com/2013/11/16/active-day/active-day-04/
      Vultures are actually very clean birds despite their preferred diet and I find them to be quite interesting as well.

  2. They are remarkably similar, and that is very interesting. Odd that one showed up there, from what you said. Kind of like how those wild turkeys were walking down our street. Strange! I like that photo of the TV, as he has his own kind of beauty.

    • The pose was similar for sure but the reason for doing it has to be very different. The anhinga just got out of the water an the vultures don’t go into water. We had a few that day who were acting particularly peculiar and of course having vultures circling very low over your head makes you wonder if they know something that you don’t. 😉

    • If the birds ever get together with the alligators and start acting out movie scenes we could all be in trouble.
      I hope the gators never saw the movie Jaws and the birds didn’t see…well… “The Birds” 🙂

  3. I was going to say much of what Judy said. I have seen that posture up here as well and have seen them in the marsh. I never did see one in the water though. In fact, I have seen them in the most unlikely places too. They get around. Judy noted them thermoregulating and what was new to me, the “heating up the bugs”. Nice photo or your vulture. That is one bird I could shoot easily. They are not that afraid of people and they even show up in the middle of town.

    • I have never seen vultures go into water and don’t often see them around water. We had a few that day who were acting particularly peculiar and of course having vultures circling very low over your head makes you wonder if they know something that you don’t. 😉
      As far as the termoregulating goes…that is a common enough sight and explanation for why a GBH will go into the classic ‘flashing’ pose such as seen here:
      https://phillanoue.com/2013/11/16/active-day/active-day-04/

      I mostly see vultures on the side of the highway picking on a dead thing, but they are actually very clean birds.

    • We had a few that day who were acting particularly peculiar and of course having vultures circling very low over your head makes you wonder if they know something that you don’t. 😉

    • Well the reason why a vulture might spread it’s wings out is very different from why a cormorant or anhinga does it. They are water birds and do it to dry their wings. Vultures don’t go into water, but they could indeed be thermoregulating such as this GBH in the classic ‘flashing’ pose seen here:
      https://phillanoue.com/2013/11/16/active-day/active-day-04/

      Thanks very much for checking these out Maggie and I’m happy you are picking some fun info on the birds. 🙂

  4. I have a number of photos of Great Blue Herons and Yellow Crowned Night Herons facing the sun with their wings twisted out. One suggestion I heard is that they are trying to get rid of mites. Perhaps that is what the turkey vulture was doing.

  5. On the other hand I could go for the thermoregulation argument. I looked back through my vulture photos and found one from last Dec 30 with a whole bunch of black vultures hanging around in the sun with their wings out.

    • I suppose it could be either or both. We just had a group of 5 or 6 out there that day that were all acting a bit peculiar.
      I get nervous when several vultures decide to circle low right over my head. Could they know something I don’t know?!? 🙂

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