Turkey Vultures Gather at Devil’s Lake

Turkey Vultures Gather at Devil’s Lake

Hundreds of turkey vultures are gathering at Devil’s Lake State Park and filling the skies for not-to-be-missed, awe-inspiring spectacle!

While it seems pretty early in the season, the vultures are gathering right now in the hundreds at Devil’s Lake State Park before migrating south for the winter. Normally we would expect to see the annual gathering sometime in mid-October. Is this an early migration? Is this just an unusual first wave?  Will more gather over the coming days or weeks?  We don’t really know.  What we can tell you is that there are hundreds of turkey vultures soaring over the park right now.  Chances are that they will only stay for a matter of days.

The vultures roost in the trees somewhere to the north and west of the lake. Each morning and evening, (conveniently around 6am or 6pm), the birds will gather over the lake riding the thermals created by the bluffs. These are the best times to be at the park to see the birds. You can expect the largest number of turkey vultures to stay gathered for only a short time, (Maybe an hour, maybe less) before they head off to hunt or roost depending on the time of day. We’d suggest parking down by the north shore boat landing and watching the birds from that area of the shoreline. Don’t worry, they will not only gather in the distance, but they will fly right over your head as well. Remember, don’t get too close or chase the vultures that land on the beach for water.

Turkey vultures are pretty easy to spot. They are large birds with up to a 6 foot wing span. They have red heads, white beaks, their bodies are black and they have grey on their underwing.  Chances are you won’t see their red heads or white underwings with them silhouetted against the sky.

Lastly, nature if fickle and doesn’t follow our rules. We can’t promise that they will appear at any given time or in such large numbers or for how long.  One day soon, without notice they will just be gone. (Until next year)

I’ve posted a few more pictures from last evening (Sept 14, 2015) below… (Click on an image to enlarge)

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Up to 300 vultures in total filled the sky.

Vultures over the North Shore Chateau

Vultures over the North Shore Chateau

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Vultures flying near park visitors

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Vultures lining up for a drink on the beach

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