Spring Love Affair: Turkey Vultures (and libraries)

Turkey vulture soaring, with us following behind

Have you ever seen so many Turkey Vultures returning in the Spring as there are these days? The other day, we counted more than twenty flying overhead, and a friend of ours claims to have seen a flock of fifty!

What do you know about these birds? How can we find out more about creatures we like to wonder about? And how can we improve our wild knowledge by observing, hanging out at the library and sharing what we know?

The Turkey Vultures have returned from their southern winter range. We’ve come to expect the return of these birds each Spring as common place. But they travel from the depths of tropical forests to get here, and their lives are largely unknown to us, even when they are here.

Not knowing much about these creatures, we set out on a walk through the city looking out for them. In no time, we spotted a few of these graceful gliders with their white wing tips spread wide. We followed a group of four East, along the Escarpment, towards Wentworth St.

Since then, we’ve been digging into some guide books and asking around about Turkey Vultures. Spending time in the library can be a great accompaniment to learning outdoors. In flipping through a guide book, we often learn tantilizing details we might not have even imagined to look for in the forest. This practice of following wonders into the library and then heading back outside armed with new knowldge is another core routine for building deeper connections with the land.

Some of the things we found out about Turkey Vultures are too good to not share here:

-Turkey Vultures are excellent at throwing up whenever they might need to. This is useful at times when a vulture has eaten a big, heavy meal of carrion (dead creatures) but suddenly needs to fly away fast to avoid danger

-Apparently, Turkey Vulture will defecate all over their legs to stay cool in Summer

-They have holes in their little red heads, at the tops of their beaks. This hole is a unique odour-sensing tool that allows them to smell the earliest stages of decay from far off

What do you know about these birds? Share what you know! We dare you to start at least one conversation about Turkey Vultures today.

 

 

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2 responses to “Spring Love Affair: Turkey Vultures (and libraries)

  1. When I was recently out west, I had similar wonders about the return of bald eagles.

    The bald eagles of the west are, this season, resorting to some creative ways to take new space in urban parks and along more populated coast lines. I even saw two bald eagle nests in the same industrial park in east vancouver!

    Turns out, this season the salmon chum supply has dropped so much that thousands of eagles have left the places they usually feed– because there is no food. This is resulting in thousands of ‘refugee’ eagles. It was, to me, a tragic testament to the a current mass-extinction of species matched last in history by the end of the dinosaurs.

    Spending many days at lighthouse park, perching myself upon the rocks and watching the sky above me, I would see three bald eagles and two golden eagles all circulating together above the tiny peninsula. And in these moments, trees to my left, my right and behind me would ALSO contain bald eagles!

    I even slept by the ocean in the park one night, and when I awoke, two bald eagles were perched about ten feet above me in the tiny coastal pine by my sleeping bag, and one sat behind me in the forest.

    You know how sometimes you can watch eagles in the sky and it is obvious they are engaging in play? Well, these eagles were engaging in the most beautiful and intentional sharing of cramped airspace– and teaching me really important lessons about finding creative ways of co-existing, too.

  2. (TURKEY) VULTURES AND (REDTAIL) HAWKS USE SIMILAR (BUT DIFFERENT) SOARING TECHNIQUES…HAWKS USE THE THERMALS TO RISE… AND GLIDE.. GREAT DISTANCES…YET THE VULTURES WILL ALSO USE THE AIR CURRENTS LIKE AN AIRPLANE-GLIDER USES THE CURRENTS TO SPIRAL FASTER AND FASTER TO GAIN SPEED.
    VULTURES HAVE A BALD HEAD , AND RECESSED SINISES, COMBINED WITH THE SHAPE OF THEIR BEAK ; TO MAXIMIZE THE DEPTH INTO THE CARRION THEY CAN FEED,

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