Arriving at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum, one of the first things you see is actually outside – the Turkey vulture. Now, a vulture isn’t what typically comes to mind for making a good first impression. But this bird is absolutely gorgeous, and unbelievably interesting; we instantly fell in love.

When most people hear vulture, they think of a big ugly bird found in the desert, waiting for something to die, circling, circling… In reality, the Turkey Vulture is a local species, and is one of the more common birds we see soaring the skies of the Bay Area.

While we interviewed Dawn Manning about the Turkey Vulture, there were quite a few “colorful” facts we learned: The Turkey Vulture has no vocal organs – they can only grunt or hiss, although they usually stay silent. They do not build nests – they lay their eggs directly on the ground in caves, crevices, burrows, hollow logs, under fallen trees, or even in abandoned buildings. While they have few natural predators, their main form of defense is vomiting. The foul smelling substance deters most creatures, and will also sting if the offending animal is close enough to get it on them.

A pure beauty -- your friendly Cathartes aura. a.k.a Turkey Vulture
A pure beauty — your friendly Cathartes aura. a.k.a Turkey Vulture

Luckily, this pretty lady didn’t seem to mind the camera and all the people; I might even go as far as saying she enjoyed the attention. You never know… yesterday, a wildlife ambassador; today, a star on QUEST; tomorrow, a Hollywood superstar??

Take a visit to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek, and say hello to the Turkey Vulture – some day you might be able to say, “I knew her when…!”

Producer’s Notes for Cool Critters: Turkey Vultures 12 March,2016Lindsay Kelliher


Lindsay Kelliher

Lindsay has been in media in California for more than a decade, dividing her time between San Francisco Bay and Monterey Bay. She has worked on documentary and factual programs for PBS (NOVA and NATURE), National Geographic, Discovery, and Animal Planet. She has also been involved with working and volunteering for local Animal Rescue organizations. She loves her new home with QUEST, letting her combine her love of animals and nature with her science-nerd tendencies. Lindsay graduated with honors from Northwestern’s Radio, TV, and Film department.

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