Friday, June 3, 2011

Coming soon to the sky near you

My friend in Maine, Vee, has long lamented about the scourge of the turkey vultures. I'd never recalled seeing a turkey vulture in this area and my naturalist neighbors concurred. We've seen some pretty large red-tailed hawks but no turkey vultures, until this week.

The other evening something appeared in the sky just north of here. Large. Very large. I didn't know what the identifying features were but my best guess is that it was the dreaded turkey vulture. Believe me when I say you'd remember something THAT large.

Last night we attended the first of a series of free concerts in the park at a nearby town. We were all sitting in the very chilly evening air when something appeared, gliding in wide circles high above the crowd. It was so unusual and so large that the entire gathering of people turned their heads skyward. Eveyone was asking, "What IS that?"

Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera handy but here's a You Tube video of a turkey vulture flying overhead.



I'm not quite sure what their arrival portends for us here in northern Illinois. Bad things? Annoyances? I'm waiting to hear from those of you who have turkey vulture experience. Our little dogs are already on house arrest due to the coyotes. More of the same?




14 comments:

Terri said...

Here in CA ours feast on road kill, and the naturally dead in the woods. They aren't predatures, I'm sure. (I just checked the resident bird book and it says they eat carrion.) So your TV at the concert was just looking for a dead guy... maybe they thought the Grateful D. were playing.

Anonymous said...

Here in Tennessee we just call them buzzards and they are ugly creatures. They mainly just clean up road kill, but our neighbor has had trouble with them lately pecking the eyes out of his new born baby elk calves. I see them roosting on a barn a few miles down the road with their wings spread wide open. Yuck!

Cindy in Tennessee

Steph said...

Those are buzzards and they are our resident road clean up crew.

Debbie said...

We live less than 2 hours south of you and have SCADS of these birds. I don't think I'd like them to roost near my house, but they are fascinating to watch when they are in the air.

Lisa D. said...

I remember seeing a bald eagle a few years ago, up in a poplar tree in the pasture. It was huge! I was kind of glad they are a rare sighting. A bird that large is rather intimidating!

Beth said...

We've always had 8-10 Turkey Vultures around - they come in March and leave in October. I consider them the "Clean up on Aisle 7 Crew" - they only eat dead critters - do not kill critters - I've never worried about our outside cats - and the birds ignore them vs a Redtail Hawk where all the song birds scatter. They are magnificient fliers and ride the currents like nobody's business. They are ultra-ugly up close - but they do serve a most useful purpose!

Lily said...

Just saw a hawk today. A lovely girl.

Vee said...

If you don't mind them roosting just a few feet from your door and breaking the crowns of your trees as they crash land, you're good. You can pretend that they're eagles. You certainly don't want them roosting on your roof as they do their business where they roost, which eventually destroys the roof. We no longer allow them to roost near us. There's a great big forest out there and we wish them well in it. And to be technically correct, turkey vulture is the term, though I have referred to them as "buzzards" myself.

Anonymous said...

We had 3 that enjoyed a stretch of country road that we frequently drive...popped up over a hill one day and hit one! It was like a bad Looney Tunes cartoon...spread eagle across the windshield of my Yukon (Big Bird for a big windshield!). My son wanted to stop and pray for it, but I opted Not to ;)

MelissaD said...

We have a lot of these in central California - I prefer the hawks myself. However, the turkey vultures do serve the purpose - as others have stated - of cleaning up the dead flat critters on the roads and elsewhere.
They are UGLY up close though!

Charm Bracelet Diva said...

Pretty creepy! We have coyotes, too. Nothing like the midwest.... :)

Kathy

Ang. said...

They eat carion and are nature's garbage men. They eat things that would at best make other animals sick. They are fascinating actually. One of their defense mechanisms is projectile vomiting. That would make me run away! They have one of the best sniffers in the animal kingdom. They a common raptor in this part of the state and I have been seeing them in northern IL for quite a few years. However, I never saw them when I was growing up there.

Anonymous said...

They are thick this year here in S IN. They cruise the skies looking for dead animals for lunch. They can over eat and then not be able to get off the ground. The vomit to scare off others.
There is a story here that when a railroad viaduct was being built over 100 years ago using Chineese men and others, the men became very ill. When asked what they had eaten, they said it was the large black bird. We call them buzzards here.

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