Skip to main content

A snow white Turkey Vulture!

Photo: Kathi Groves

Imagine peering up into the clear blue ether, and seeing this giant white bird wafting over. You'd do a double take, and a birder would slam on the brakes and hop out for a better look. That's what Kathi Groves did yesterday as she cruised up Frederick Pike in Montgomery County, just north of Interstate 70 near Dayton.

Fortunately, she had a camera handy and the presence of mind to snap a few photos. Bev & Ed Neubauer suggested that she send them along to me, and I'm glad that Kathi did because now I can share them with you.

Photo: Kathi Groves

The Turkey Vultures are in full migration mode right now, and it's commonplace to see them drifting high overhead. But most of these dark undertakers of the bird world don't look anything like this! Kathi's vulture is leucistic, and highly so. This genetic anomaly causes melanins, or dark pigments, to be washed out and pale. Most typically leucism manifests itself in a "piebald" pattern - patchy blotches of white, or perhaps just one prominent white bodypart such as the white-headed American Robin that someone just sent me a photo of. Leucism is a numbers game - the more animals in a population, the more likely that an individual will carry this recessive trait. That's why the most commonly reported leucistic birds tend to be abundant species such as American Robins, Red-tailed Hawks, and Turkey Vultures.

Kathi's vulture may be the whitest one that I've seen, but it isn't the only one. For years, a leucistic Turkey Vulture frequented the vicinity of Egypt Valley Wildlife Area in Belmont County, and became a local celebrity. It's patchy white wings made it stand out from afar, and I saw it on a few occasions. Then there's THIS BIRD, from a few years ago.

Photo: Kathi Groves

As Kathi watched, the vulture cruised earthward and alit in this yard. I can only imagine the surprise of the homeowners, if they happened to glance out the window and notice this thing.

Thanks to Kathi for sharing her discovery and photos! If you're in the area of Frederick Pike and I-70 in north Dayton, keep an eye peeled for this vulture, and please let me know if you see it. The bird may just be passing through, but perhaps it here to stay.


KaHolly said…
Wow! I've never seen anything like that before! Talk about being in the right place at the right time!!
CAT said…
That is amazing!!Just saw about 50 Turkey Vultures just this afternoon, defiantly no white ones though.
The first time I saw an all white turkey vulture, in my country are lots of them and nobody see one with such leucistic plumage.
Excellent record!
Clinton Morris said…
I think I may have seen one today at John Bryan state Park. Anywhere I could send you a picture?
Unknown said…
Northern DelawareCo. D-5 Wildlife area on Tues. July 28th 2015 there was a pure white turkey vulture on my road. Got pics.
emily calvert said…
There was a pure white turkey vulture on my road on Tues. July 28th 2015. Northern Delaware Co. D-5 wildlife area.
Unknown said…
Northern Delaware Co. D-5 Wildlife area on Tues. July 28th 2015 there was a pure white turkey vulture on my road. Got pics.
sno cross said…
3 white vultures off of I-70 heading west outside of debeque canyon

Popular posts from this blog

The Pinching Beetle, a rather brutish looking bug

The world is awash in beetles, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Few of them can match the intimidation factor of a Pinching Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, though. Those formidable looking mandibles look like they could slice off a finger.

Today was one of those coolly diverse days. I started off down in Fayette County, visiting the farm of a friend. He has restored about 25 acres of wetlands, and the response by the animal community has been nothing short of phenomenal. Blizzards of dragonflies of many species, amphibians galore, and nesting Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and Sora. Among MANY other things. And all in a short two years. Add water and they will come.

Then, working my way home, I ducked into a Madison County cemetery that has a thriving population of Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, and shot images of our native prairie dog. Then, I stopped at a spot along Little Darby Creek, waded on in, and procured some pretty nice shots of various stream bluets and dancers. …

Calliope Hummingbird in central Ohio!

A hatch-year male Calliope Hummingbird strikes a pose. Small but tough, the hummingbird was feeding actively yesterday in 39 F temperatures. It frequents feeders and gardens at a home in Delaware County, Ohio, about a half-hour north of Columbus.

Fortunately, the wayward hummer appeared at the home of Tania and Corey Perry. Tania is a birder, and knew right away that the hummingbird was something special. For a while, the identification was up in the air, which isn't surprising. The Calliope Hummingbird used to be placed in its own genus, Stellula, but has recently been submerged into the genus Selasphorus, which includes Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds. The latter two, especially, are quite similar to the Calliope in subadult plumage. Rufous is the default "vagrant" hummingbird here, with dozens of records and birds turning up annually. There is but one Ohio record of Allen's Hummingbird, from late fall/early winter 2009. Ditto the Calliope Hummi…

Snowy owl photography tactics - and things NOT to do

A gorgeous juvenile female snowy owl briefly catches your narrator with its piercing gaze. It's doing its Linda Blair/Exorcist trick - twisting its head 180 degrees to look straight behind. Owls have 14 neck vertebrae - double our number - which allows them such flexibility.

These visitors from the high arctic have irrupted big time into Ohio and adjacent regions, with new birds coming to light nearly every day. Probably 80 or so have thus far been reported in the state, and some of them have stuck around favored spots and become local celebrities.

I went to visit one of these birds this morning - the animal above, which was found last Friday by Doug Overacker and Julie Karlson at C.J. Brown Reservoir near Springfield. In the four days since its discovery, many people have visited as is nearly always the case when one of these white wonders appears near a large population center or is otherwise very accessible.

And as is always the case, people want to photograph the owls. And th…