Monday, February 21, 2011

Turkey Vultures: early to the party

So I came home from a swim at the Y and saw two BIG black birds on the lawn. Crows? No. Turkeys? No. Turkey vultures! (Thanks to for the picture--I didn't get close enough to get one with my little digital camera.)

One was actually by the sidewalk, and was worrying a bit of something. Later, I saw that it was some kind of carrion--roadkill, I'd guess. The other waited anxiously on the lawn, hopping from foot to foot. When I snuck around the corner of the house to get a better look, the waiting one flew away and the eating one looked nervous, hunching down over its carrion.

I decided it would be best to go inside, so Eli and I watched from his window. The eating buzzard ate at the carrion, but warily, constantly looking up at various things: cars that drove by, crows that started gathering noisily in the trees. Then the eating buzzard flew away, and the other one--a bit smaller--came over to the carrion.

Eventually, two crows came down and stood on the sidewalk near the buzzard. "Can I have some of that? That looks good; can I have a taste?" That's what their body language suggested to me! More crows gathered in the trees and made crow noises.

Finally, the buzzard flew away--we saw both of them circling, then soaring off. A couple crows flew down and took away bits of the carrion.

I'm a bit puzzled. Usually, the buzzards come back around Eli's birthday, March 14. Kind of like the Hinckley buzzards--they're pretty reliable. Why are these back now? Is climate change affecting them? Or is it just the unusual weather last week?

Definitely going to report this to the backyard bird count!

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