Following the Progress of Two Turkey Vultures

Week 1

I have been following the development of two turkey vulture chicks in a semi-abandoned barn in Sturgeon Bay. I found the eggs in the beginning of May and checked on their progress weekly. I named them Barnabas and Fred (though I do not know their sex). They fledged recently and are now soaring the Sturgeon Bay skies.

The eggs were located between round bales of hay in an old cattle barn. I came upon them randomly when counting hay bales to sell for cattle feed with a farmer friend. The vultures are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, so I made sure that no one would disturb the nest until they were fledged. It was hard to get the two chicks in a photo together since one was much more frightened than the other. I referred to the braver of the two as Barnabas, who is in the photos.

Nine weeks

They are pretty nonaggressive birds, but they will stomp their feet, hiss and regurgitate when upset. The photos I sent are at one week, four weeks, nine weeks and 11 weeks. I took pictures every week, but these were the best ones. From what I have read, their heads will turn red when they become adults, so, I am still able to tell them apart from their parents. The 11-week photos were taken the week of Aug. 11-17.

Want to know more about the high-soaring turkey vulture? Visit the Turkey Vulture Society at or the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at

11 Weeks

Alison Keen is a small animal veterinarian in Door County who has a special affection for birds.