Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Turkey vultures are amazing birds!

I've learned a lot about turkey vultures over the last several years, and they are now one of my favorite birds. They may have a face that only a mother would love, but they are very interesting.

Many people get creeped out when they see a vulture, as it reminds them of death, disease and doom. Fact is that turkey vultures (unlike black vultures) almost never kill their food. It is true that they may sense death and disease with their very sensitive sense of smell... because it is dead animals that they seek. But, what is really amazing about these birds is that they can eat a diseased animal and essentially dispose of the disease. They don't contract it themselves. But watch out... they use "defensive vomiting" if they see you as a predator. Defensive vomiting is when they throw up the gross, smelly meat they had eaten to scare you off.

It is pretty easy to spot a vulture in the sky. Their wings extend upward into the shape of a "V" when they soar on thermals. They are often in groups of 3 or 4, soaring around and around up in the sky. You will often see them in areas where the landscape changes because these areas are where they find the updrafts to ride on. Roadsides, along cliffs and along quarries are common places to find them.

Turkey vultures do not create nests, rather, they will situate an area in rocks along cliffs, in caves or other high locations.

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