ARTISTS AND BIRDS
by Marilyn and Keith Davis
"Follow The Leader"
Turkey Vultures love huge trees. Once they find trees big enough in a vicinity where they can find food, they will roost there in large flocks, and continue to use that same roost year after year as they migrate in and out. At 8:45 a.m. in the heart of St. George, we spotted 20+ Turkey Vultures making slow spirals in the air, using the early morning thermal to uplift them into the sky. Turkey Vultures, with their six-foot wingspan, become master fliers by gliding on warm, uplifting columns of air. They waste no energy soaring high into the sky.
The secret to a Turkey Vulture’s success is that they view the surface of the earth as a huge chess board. Each has a part to play. Once airborne, Turkey Vultures spread out across the sky, searching his area of the earth for anything edible. While searching, they keep an eye on the other birds, miles away. They have great eyesight. As soon as a Turkey Vulture finds a dead animal (food), it will drop out of sky and hone in on the upcoming meal. When the other birds note the change in the flight formation, they too descend in the direction of the possible food. Soon the whole flock is gliding to the located prey. Turkey Vultures act as Mother Nature’s garbage disposal unit, for they are immune to most diseases that kill the animals they eat, disposing of carcases that could be a source of disease spreading to other animals.
Next time you see a single Turkey Vulture cruising through the sky, take a moment, look out across the horizon and see if you see any other members of the flock. Living becomes more and more enjoyable as you reach an understanding of how the web of life operates.
Thanks to Brenda Rusnell for her interpretation of this magnificent bird. For information about the upcoming Red Cliffs Audubon Monthly Meetings or Field Trips call 435 673-0996. If you wish to read more of the Artists and Birds articles, they are listed below.
- Red Cliffs Audubon