Turkey Vultures/Buzzards
(Cathartes aura)


You may wonder what this Big carrion-muncher is doing in Songbird pages.

The answer is that GardenGrapevine.com discovered a Nest with Eggs
of these unusual and little-documented Gliders of the Sky,
and followed their growth with a Camera.



This Parent Vulture (assumed to be female) left the Nest and flew to a Nearby Locust Tree filled with fragrant Spring Blossoms, where it spread its Wings in a gliding posture. Note the bare head which was created without Feathers to facilitate cleaning of a Head that gets thrust inside dead Animals. 



Here the normal clutch of two large speckled Eggs lies in a shallow depression which may be natural or formed by the Female Vulture. They are the size of Goose Eggs. The location is under the protective cover of Rocks and storm-downed Trees in an area which is not frequented by Humans.



Looking like a cross between a Penguin and a Woodpecker, who would guess that these downy white Hatchlings would turn into big black Gliders of the Sky?
The outstretched Wings are accompanied by a loud hissing meant to make them appear large and formidable, and scare off potential predators.




Already, the sharp Beak can tear bits of flesh carried by the parents. The extra large Nostrils and Nasal Cavities are created to detect the stench of rotting Carrion on the ground far below the gliding Birds.



Six weeks later (July 12) the Nestlings have grown to nearly the size of their Parents, and in the process have soiled their surroundings with white excrement and created a stench which only a Buzzard could tolerate.



Now the Juvenile Buzzards have left the Nest area. It appears that they  have been climbing atop nearby debris, probably to exercise their Wings for their impending Maiden Voyage and their October Migration when thousands upon thousands will soar a mile high to go as far as South America.



This was the last photo taken of the juvenile pair. The white baby down is nearly gone and their wings appear to be fully developed, ready to elevate them into the air currents high above the Earth,  where their nearly six-foot wing spans will glide them effortlessly in search of the next Roadkill.



Speaking of Roadkill, this piece was found in the lair.

It appears to be from a Raccoon, judging by the hairs indicated with the three white dots. The white circle indicates fat. Flies and many dead Maggots can be seen. It has been consumed and regurgitated by the parents, much the same as Pigeons and Doves feed grain to their own Nestlings.


Foot Note:
Buzzards were seen circling above the empty nest site 2 weeks later.
Some individuals appeared to be brown as opposed to black.
They were assumed to be these juveniles.

 



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