Exploring natural history one itsy bitsy spider at a time...

Exploring natural history one itsy bitsy spider at a time...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Turkey Vultures

Great Scavenging Clean-up Crews

On the east coast we have two species of vultures. The turkey and the black. With a wing span slightly under six feet, we commonly observe the turkey vulture teetering in the wind high above our heads. Giant nostrils and close friends direct vultures to stinky rotting carcasses where their sharp bills allow them to tear apart flesh. Their bare head prevents them from having a face full of dried up gore covered feathers. With their large size, they rarely need to defend themselves, but if a predator does threaten them, vultures attempt to protect themselves by vomiting up some nastiness from their latest meal! To cool themselves off they use the resources they've got- they deficate on their legs and cool through evaporation.

Vultures, like any bird, have to take good care of those feathers to stay in good competitive shape. After preening or washing, they may dry their feathers in the sun.

Turkey Vulture in flight.

Black vulture in flight. Shorter tail, white wing tips, and slightly smaller wingspan at less than 5 feet.

Thank goodness for vultures!