"Silhouettes in the Sky"

Turkey Vulture

        Have you seen the black silhouettes against a bright blue dome over St. George? Large birds using the warm thermal winds to soar in unison up and down, around and around. It’s migration time again for Turkey Vultures fleeing south to miss the winter’s chill.

        Turkey Vultures, masters of the sky that crest along the ridges with only a seldom flap of their six foot wings to stay airborne, and with the wind that keeps themturkey vulture aloft comes the scent of dead animals. When a Turkey Vulture follows this scent to food, it leaves a hole in the sky for other Vultures to queue into. Fellow Vultures watch for these vacant spots in the sky and move into position where they follow the others down to dine. Dinner may be a small road-kill squirrel, or a large gourmet meal of a dead cow.

        Turkey Vultures are natures "Clean Up Crew," and help stop the spread of disease in animal populations by eating the dead. Vultures are immune to most every deadly disease in nature, and have survived for eons of time. The major problems Turkey Vultures face today are man caused; speeding cars (as they partake of road-kill), lead bullet fragments (eaten while cleaning up the leftovers of the deer and elk hunt), and lost habitats. Turkey Vultures spend the summer in most all of the US and into Canada. They winter in the southern most part of the US and in Mexico and points south. Both spring and fall they pass through this area in large flocks.

        The artist of the Turkey Vulture is Brenda Rusnell. It is a great picture of this four pound raptor. They have been spotted flying over Dixie State College, above the red cliffs along Skyline Drive, through the open areas of Ivins, Santa Clara, and Washington. In the next few weeks watch for these magnificent birds in your area of southern Utah. For more information call 435 673-0996.

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