Turkey Vulture drawn from taxidermy specimen, ink & watercolor, 5x8"

Turkey Vulture drawn in ink from taxidermy specimen, ink & watercolor, 5×8″

So here it was the day before Thanksgiving and I wanted to draw a turkey. I called around trying to find a live one to sketch but failed. Then I tried to find a taxidermy turkey. No luck. The ranger at the Tilden Nature Center said they did have a collection of taxidermy birds including owl, songbirds, turkey vulture…but no turkey.

Wait! Turkey Vulture! It’s a bird, it’s named Turkey so why not? I called back to confirm they had it in stock (they rent it out: $10 for two weeks) and then drove up to Tilden Park.

Turkey Vulture: It's Value, ink & watercolor 5x16"

Turkey Vulture: It’s Value, drawn from specimen with notes from display case, ink & watercolor 5×16″

Here are a few interesting things about Turkey Vultures:

  • Turkey vultures (nicknamed “buzzard”) have a 5-6 foot wing span; “there is no more graceful bird in flight” but they have weak legs so walk awkwardly
  • In order to fly they need a run into the wind to lift off and can fly 60 miles per hour
  • Vultures are the “garbage collector of the bird world” and eat everything from dead mouse to moose.
  • If they are in danger and can’t run, they vomit their foul-smelling meal at their enemy.
  • Be thankful for them: “Without vultures, much of the world would be cluttered with the bodies of dead decaying animals.”

I’m Thankful For…

Along with turkey vultures, here are some things I’m grateful for:

  • YOU, my dear blog visitor and reader,
  • my much-loved friends and family, and
  • the freedom, security, comfort, and good health that allow me to live this wonderful creative life.

I know none of the above is guaranteed or permanent so I try to be grateful every day, not just Thanksgiving. What are you thankful for?

Animals, Bay Area Parks, Drawing, Ink and watercolor wash, Life in general, Sketchbook Pages
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Join the conversation! 14 Comments

  1. Excellent drawings and post.

    I can’t imagine renting a stuffed bird for an hour let alone a week, but it’s a good idea.

    Happy Thanksgiving Jana.


    • They rent them to schools mostly. It seemed awfully cheap to me. I’m sure the bird and the display case are worth a lot more than that. They charge a lot more than that if you fail to return a book or movie to the library. Jana


  2. Great turkey vultures Jana. My Mary also rendered turkey vultures on her blog. You should check them out at http://thebackdoorartist.com/2012/10/09/wings-of-autumn/ . Turkey vultures must be coming into fashion! Oh, by the way, be careful which stuffed bird you eat on Thanksgiving.


  3. Great bird! A HAPPY THANKSGIVING DAY to you and your family, Jana.


  4. What a wonderful idea, rent-a-bird! Love your drawing that brings the taxidermied bird seemingly back to life. I am thankful for those things you mention, my family and everyone’s good health, for being able to draw everyday, for American freedom, and for the internet that brings so many distant people and ideas near. Your blog is so much fun, always some surprise and some unexpected delight. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and send wishes of peace and good fortune to all the fellow readers.


    • Thanks Aletha, I always enjoy your comments and your wonderful colorful artwork. I too am grateful for many of the same things you list, and want to start making sure I draw every day too. I’m trying to come up with some kind of theme that will get me drawing something every day. J


  5. Hi Jana- Only one problem, you made him (her) too pretty! But I love the drawing and color work. Thanks- Catherine

    Catherine Hunt Alspach


  6. Happy Thanksgiving Jana! Thank you for always inspiring me!


  7. Pretty bird!!! Thank-you so much, Jana, and a very Happy and Blessed Thnaksgiving Day to you and to yours!! Blessings always, C-Marie


  8. I’m thankful too! I’m enjoying your sketches


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