Thursday, October 9, 2014

Turkey Vulture

Erika and I kicked up a Turkey Vulture along the roadside on a very windy 3 October 2014. The black-tipped bill suggest that this bird is relatively young. I was impressed this bird’s ragged plumage. Almost nothing is known about Turkey Vulture molting patterns (Kirk and Mossman 1998). Molt may continue throughout the year.

Turkey Vultures are one of the few birds than have an acute sense of smell. When Erika and I were in Ecuador, beetle collectors visited us. On the jungle floor, the entomologists left leaf-covered coffee cans laced with excrement. These traps did not wreak, but quickly attracted numbers of vultures, even though the birds could not see the bait. I have read that oil companies sometimes locate pipeline leaks by pumping carcass odor into the pipes and then waiting to see where the vultures congregate.

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