Skip to main content

Distributed for Brandeis University Press


The Private Life of an Unloved Bird


Distributed for Brandeis University Press


The Private Life of an Unloved Bird


Few animals have a worse reputation than the vulture. But is it deserved? With Vulture, Katie Fallon offers an irresistible argument to the contrary, tracing a year in the life of a typical North American turkey vulture. Turkey vultures, also known as buzzards, are the most widely distributed and abundant scavenging birds of prey on the planet, found from central Canada to the southern tip of Argentina and nearly everywhere in between. Deftly drawing on the most up-to-date scientific papers and articles and weaving those in with interviews with world-renowned raptor and vulture experts and her own compelling natural history writing, Fallon examines all aspects of the bird’s natural history: breeding, incubating eggs, raising chicks, migrating, and roosting. The result is an intimate portrait of an underappreciated bird—one you’ll never look at in the same way again.

256 pages | 30 color plates | 5.5 x 8.5

Brandeis University Press image

View all books from Brandeis University Press


"[A]n excellent quick read, suitable not only for bird lovers and naturalists but for anyone with a bit of natural curiosity and an inclination to root for the common, the misunderstood, and the underdog.”

Birding Magazine

“Fallon’s personal accounts of her field experiences are engrossing and entertaining. . . . Recommended.”


"Through thorough research, interviews, and firsthand experience, Fallon establishes unquestionable credibility; however, it is her own narrative writing and descriptive skills that make Vulture a book that is not only educational and inspiring, but readable and entertaining."

The Los Angeles Review

"Fallon truly loves these skillful gliders, and she hopes that readers will see the light. Every time I've seen a vulture this year, this book has come to mind, so I guess I'm hooked."

The Exponent Telegram

“Who would have suspected the astonishments of vultures? Katie Fallon has given us an ingenious, funny, delightful book.”

Janisse Ray, author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood

“Katie Fallon, who writes with elegance, humor, and restraint, tells the lost stories of the vulture tribe. This book will fill you with wonder.”

David Gessner, author of All The Wild That Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner, and the American West

“Fallon shines a bright light on this clan of sadly unloved birds, which are not only vitally important ecologically, but are also among the most imperiled avian groups on the planet. Vulture is an overdue love letter to a bird that deserves far better than we’ve given it.”

Scott Weidensaul, author of Living on the Wind

“This is a book that begged to be written. . . . Fallon allows that the study of flying turkey vultures is akin to meditation. Rarely hurried, coursing the heavens like a setter seeks quail, this most widespread of North American vultures invites both contemplation and envy. . . . A book as inspired as the bird that is its focus.”

Pete Dunne, New Jersey Audubon’s ambassador for birding and author of The Wind Masters: The Lives of North American Birds of Prey

“A heartfelt and authoritative account of the world’s most numerous and misunderstood avian scavenger. Writing in a style reminiscent of Edward Abbey and John McPhee, Fallon successfully captures the natural history of the species and its ability to succeed in both natural and man-made landscapes. Destined to change the mind of anyone who reads it.”

Keith L. Bildstein, Sarkis Acopian Director of Conservation Science at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

“Entertaining, well-researched. . . . [Fallon] displays great passion and enthusiasm yet writes knowingly and dispassionately on the science of her subject in an engaging, literary style.”

Library Journal

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Spokesbird
1. Vulture Culture
2. The Private Lives of Public Birds
3. Rockshelter
4. Wings and Prayers
5. Rebirth
6. Hill of the Sacred Eagles
7. On the Move
8. Virginia Is for Vultures
9. Battlefield Ghosts
10. Welcome Back
11. Buzzards
Epilogue: Spokesbirds for the Spokesbirds
Afterword: What You Can Do

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press