Young Black Vulture at Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge

Embarking on my journey as a wildlife photographer, I have had the privilege of encountering some extraordinary moments in nature. Among these experiences, one particular nesting spot has captured my attention for over five years—the habitat of a pair of Black Vultures at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. Positioned right next to the road, this unique site offers an unparalleled opportunity to observe these magnificent birds without disrupting their delicate nest. Finally, on June 22, 2023, I had the pleasure of witnessing one of the young Black Vultures peering out from its abode, capturing a photograph that will forever hold a special place in my heart.

Young Black Vulture
Young Black Vulture

Discovering the Nest Alongside My Journey

As I drive along the auto tour road at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge, I often find myself checking on the nesting progress of the Black Vulture pair. Their chosen nest resides within a large tree, conveniently located at the bottom of a majestic trunk. Knowing that approaching the nest on foot would likely disturb the young birds, I have always maintained a respectful distance, remaining inside my pickup truck during my observations.

A Moment of Wonder

June 22, 2023, marked an unforgettable day as I caught sight of a baby Black Vulture gazing curiously from the entrance of its nest hole. The lighting conditions were far from ideal, but the sheer joy of witnessing this rare sight outweighed any technical challenges. The downy feathers of the young vulture stood out against the dark recesses of the nest, creating a captivating contrast that fueled my passion for wildlife photography.

Maintaining a Disturbance-Free Environment

Understanding the importance of minimizing disturbance to the nesting Black Vultures, I carefully positioned my pickup truck along the road, ensuring I did not intrude upon their habitat. From the comfort of my vehicle, I was able to set up my camera and capture a photograph that immortalized the innocence and beauty of the young vulture. This approach not only safeguarded the tranquility of their nest but also allowed me to observe their natural behavior without causing undue stress.

Unbeknownst Visitors and the Nest’s Hidden Wonders

It is remarkable to consider that countless vehicles pass by this unassuming tree each day, unaware of the remarkable sight concealed within its branches. The proximity of the refuge’s road offers a hidden gem for those observant enough to spot it. By avoiding direct contact and respectfully observing from a distance, we can ensure that the vulture family’s annual return to this nesting site remains undisturbed.

Unique Insights into Baby Black Vultures

The presence of a baby Black Vulture is a sight to behold. Covered in a soft layer of dirty-white down feathers, these chicks are reliant on their parents for nourishment and protection until they mature. Born with closed eyes, they gradually develop into the distinctive dark brownish-black plumage that characterizes adult Black Vultures. These magnificent birds, often associated with scavenging, play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of nature by assisting in carrion cleanup and curbing the spread of diseases.


Encountering the young Black Vulture at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge from the comfort of my pickup truck was a cherished experience. By adhering to a respectful approach that avoids disturbing the young birds, I could capture a moment frozen in time—an intimate glimpse into their fascinating life cycle. This encounter serves as a reminder that nature’s wonders are sometimes found in the most unexpected places, awaiting those who appreciate and protect the delicate balance of wildlife.

 Note: During this unforgettable encounter at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge, I had the pleasure of sharing the experience with my dear friend and fellow photographer, Mia McPherson. As a testament to the awe-inspiring sight we witnessed together, Mia has also dedicated a blog post to this remarkable moment, featuring her own captivating photograph titled “Young Black Vulture Snuggled Into A Tree Cavity Nest.” We marveled at the sight of the young vulture, nestled snugly within the tree cavity, showcasing the wonders of nature through our respective lenses. Mia’s stunning image beautifully captures the essence of this extraordinary encounter.

Equipment Used:

  • Camera: Canon EOS R5
  • Lens: Canon RF 800 mm F11

Technical Details:

  • Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma)
  • Date and Time Taken: June 22, 2023 (09:11 A. M.)
  • Exposure Mode: Manual
  • Aperture: f11
  • Shutter speed: 1/100
  • ISO: 8000 (Auto)
  • Exp. Comp.: -0.7
  • Focal Length: 800 mm