Third Turkey Vulture Sheds a Transmitter!

Droopy-headed Turkey Vulure with transmitter and wing-tag, ready for release. Carissa Gaffney photo.

April 29, 2023

Coastal Raptors attached a transmitter and a wing-tag to a Turkey Vulture at the Ocean Shores Municipal Airport. Afterwards GPS fixes indicated that this vulture, with tag ID CM and named Caeden, had moved to forestland three miles northeast of the airport. Telemetry signals showed his presence there up to May 11, when these signals stopped. (Note: For more on our field efforts at the airport and the early movements of Caeden, go to Turkey Vulture Tracking and scroll down to Transmitters Deployed in 2023).

June 13, 28 and July 7

Was Caeden dead or had he shed his transmitter?
I searched without success for Caeden in a managed forest stand where transmitter signals had come from.

A look at the forest canopy in the area of Caeden’s last known location. Dan Varland photo.

July 11

I received a phone call fom the city of Ocean Shores street department crew manager Shawn Pease. Shawn said that a young deer had been hit and killed by a vehicle and that the carcass was available for research purposes. Yay!

I phoned Christopher and Kristen Schimke, friends of Coastal Raptors who live a few miles south of the airport release site. They sometimes see Turkey Vultures feeding on Harbor Seal pup carcasses that wash ashore at the foot of their property in the spring when females give birth. On occasion our wing-tagged Turkey Vultures are in the mix. The family keeps an eye out for our tagged vultures and had eight re-sightings of four of our birds: AV, AY, BP and, most recently EA.

Christopher and I secured the carcass to a log at the foot of their poperty. I had high hopes that Caeden would stop by for a meal. Dan Varland photo.

July 14. Voila! Schimke’s daughter Elise photographed Caeden feeding at the carcass. She skillfully took the photo below through binoculars using her cell phone camera.

Caeden at the carcass.
Thanks much, Elise. Your re-sighting is an important contribution to Coastal Raptors research! Kristen Schimke photo.

Caeden is the third Turkey Vulture to shed a transmitter. The other two were Glenn, also this summer, and Amelia in 2022. In retrospect, it appears that we had positioned the transmitters too low on the back. This allowed them to reach behind and bite through the harness made of teflon ribbon…lesson learned!

Note: If you would like to see more of my Blog posts on Turkey Vultures, click on Tracking Turkey Vultures below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.