"Frozen Dinners"

Turkey Vultures

        Spring’s migration has been slowed this year by the recurring snow storms that replenish the snow packs on the mountains. It’s April and as temperatures increase, the snow line moves rapidly up the mountains. The snow line is important to many species in southern Utah, for the animals that die and are covered with snow over turkey vulturewinter . . . are like frozen dinners waiting to be thawed.

        Turkey Vultures are common sights when they migrate through our area in Spring and Fall, using our large trees for roosting and resting. Frozen dinners are high on their ‘shopping list’. Other creatures also look for ‘winter-kill’ animals. The California Condors will follow the melting snow line and consume the newly exposed dead animals. Further north, as avalanche areas melt, Bears will come searching for deer or sheep that were killed during avalanche slides. These creatures are the Clean Up Crews of Nature who look for protein meals in Spring’s melting ice and snow refrigerators.

        As the snow disappears and the trees explode into leaf, our ever expanding knowledge of Nature becomes a source of wonderment and joy. There have been several sightings of Turkey Vultures winging their way into our area. Their six-foot wing span gives them the ability to gracefully soar for miles, and miles, and miles. They have excellent eyesight, and an excellent sense of smell . . . even detecting gases from the dead animals far below. I love to watch Turkey Vultures as they tilt back and forth over the landscape.

        The Turkey Vulture is drawn by Brenda Rusnell. Look for this beautiful carrion eater and let me know if you see one, two, or twenty. Red Cliffs Audubon has monthly meetings and field trips. For more information about birds or activities call 435 673-0996.


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