Turkey Vultures Cathartes aura (cleansing breeze) soaring high in the air are quite beautiful and majestic with a wing span of over six feet. They are intelligent and extremely important in preventing the spread of disease. Friends to farmers and gas utility workers alike for cleaning up dead carcasses and locating gas leaks, the Turkey Vulture’s role in our ecosystem is unique and valued thus protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.
Still many find these vital carrion consumers repulsive and even harbor haunting notions of fear regarding them. In fact they rarely kill live animals, are non-aggressive and can become fond of humans . . . while still alive. I read of a story about a young boy, who had an enduring endearing relationship with a Turkey Vulture that would walk along with him to his school bus each day and when the bus drove off the vulture would fly off to hunt for food, returning to meet the boy in the afternoon.
Perhaps their bright red faces are not classically beautiful, but they can boast being equipped with the largest olfactory organ found in any animal perusing air or land. They have good eye sight as well, making them well equipped for finding dead animals . . . if conditions are right . . . within a twelve mile range soon after their demise. We all save tax dollars by not having to pay workers for the removal of road kill. Purification has been a symbol and synonym throughout many cultures in classifying these raptors. Vultures cannot call out or sing lovely trills, for they have no voice box. These gentle birds must get by communicating in hisses and grunts or if they feel threatened they may hurl ‘vomit’ towards any intruder. Admittedly when I listen to this hiss I do find it a bit spooky.
Pumpkins along with some fruit and vegetation are also acceptable to their palate.
I enjoyed watching several Turkey Vultures this spring as they gracefully glided above Flower Hill Farm each morning. I had never seen them come so close . . . at times only ten or twenty feet above where I stood camera in hand.
There are those that have a great fondness for Turkey Vultures and you can learn a good deal from visiting their site.
What I find really scary is the climate! I was out during the storm shaking shrubs and small trees to release snow . . . luckily there is not much damage here, but down in the valley where more trees had leaves there were hundreds of limbs and trees down on power lines.
After digging out of the epic October snow storm and enjoying the return of power . . . I do so appreciate running water and not having to read with a flashlight . . . I ponder the oddity of a landscape wearing green and colorful leaves, while beneath the canopies . . . thrown far and wide . . . rests a two-foot pile high snow carpet.
Watch out below! Avalanches of heavy snow fall fast from the roofs.
After a morning of sunshine the landscape begins to look almost normal . . . until you look down.
The warmer days are melting the snow and hopefully before the weeks end the white carpet will melt into the earth as ‘poor man’s fertilizer.’ This overdose may intoxicate the plants and trees!
Our perceptions of what Autumn brings here in Western Massachusetts and beyond are forever changed as our climate surprises and haunts us with what may yet come. This was our second snow storm in October . . . a month that had not seen accumulations of snow in one hundred years. Very freaky storms . . . especially this last one.
Let’s all act towards thinning our carbon footprint in our daily lives and demand that our leaders stop wasting time and money developing dirty energy.
Please Call the White House today and say NO to the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Why not encourage more investment in green energy too!