| Yesterday, out front of the old administration building at work, I spotted at huge turkey vulture
gliding atop the trees and over the lawn propelled by thermal pockets in the air | They are ugly buggers, turkey vultures, but watching their grace in the air is captivating |
The American Turkey Vulture Society
thinks that "...one of the most ubiquitous figures in North American skies, there is nevertheless very little understanding of the turkey vulture. This bird's graceful flight is often mistaken for that of a hawk, and its name conjures unmerited images of death, filth, and cruelty...
" which is, they feel, an unfair characterization |
I had not realized it at the time, but turkey vulture sightings have becoming increasingly common in Connecticut; enough so that one of the bird surveyors at Connecticut Audubon [Southbury office] noted that they are no longer considered uncommon enough to warrant regular sight tracking | Local Guide to Birds
found their presence in Connecticut unremarkable |
I ought not have been surprised at the sighting | My place of work is strategically situated between a sizable undeveloped tract of lank known as Maromas and the Interstate Route 9, a likely spot for road kill carrion, a culinary delicay for turkey vultures | Traffic provides the vultures with much of their prey. The more cars, the more road kill | That could be one of the reasons for the rise in the vulture population |
"They're doing pretty well because there's a lot of dead things on the road," says Carl Betsill, section manager for research and regulations for the North Carolina Division of Wildlife Management |
A National Geographic article notes that
"...vultures are gross and clean at the same time. They gobble up road kill and can hurl the ingested remains at a potential attacker, leaving a horrible odor. On the other hand, they gracefully soar for hours at a time on rising air currents without flapping a wing.
"The scientific name for turkey vulture, Cathartes aura, means "cleansing breeze." | Vultures release urine down their legs to clean off bacteria. They help keep the countryside clean of rotting animals. Their heads are featherless so they can thrust them into the gut of a carcass without leaving a nasty mess on their feathers..."
The turkey vulture's wingspread is large, it is not the largest bird known | By comparison, the turkey vulture is still smaller than the golden eagle or the adult condor | My call was initially to see where I could report the sighting
| The woman answering the phone at Audubon was encouraging but told me these days, tracking of the turkey vulture, in Connecticut, is no longer regularly done | Had I seen a black vulture
, the sighting would warrant notice | I came away without the answer directly, but having learned much more about the bird |