Perhaps there is no more fitting place for these birds to hang out than a spot called “the Badlands.”
While lush, green prairie is right next door, the rockiest areas of Badlands National Park can seem somewhat desolate, dry and otherworldly. They certainly do not seem particularly hospitable.
In those environs, an animal that lives almost exclusively on carrion could probably do quite well for themselves so I wasn’t surprised to see a lot of turkey vultures when I was there.
Most of the time they kept their distance but this one seemed to have found a nice spot to watch for its next meal. Sitting high on a rocky outcropping, it proudly surveyed the ground below, ready to make a meal of some poor, unsuspecting creature that had met its demise.
While turkey vultures may not win any beauty contests, they serve a vital role in the ecosystem as one of nature’s garbage collectors, helping to prevent the spread of disease from the carcasses they devour.