Sunday, March 11, 2007

Turkey Vultures

I saw three Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) today, another anxiously-awaited sign of Spring. I actually saw a single one a couple of weeks ago, but with this species I never count the single but the first group of two or more.

The vultures that stayed here last summer left for southern parts during the first week of October. There was some interesting research that came out of Venezuela (which I can't lay my hands on, or I'd give due credit to its author), where the northern migrants spend November through February with locals (year-round residents). Turns out it's the migrants ("our" birds) that assume the dominance at the carrion feasts (the locals assuming a subordinate role for that four-month period). So, as much as I rejoice at the return of these spring-and-summer winged recycling machines, there are probably vultures in South America who are just as glad to be rid of them!

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