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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Return of the Turkey Vultures!

April's warm temperatures mean the return of the Park's animals from their winter homes. The bison and elk will soon be back in their summer pasture up close to the visitor's Center; the goats, horses, and sheep will come back to the Pioneer area; and two of our birds will be moved back into their summer enclosure in the Aviary across from the eagles. These two birds are resident turkey vultures and yesterday was their big move. In the early morning, Marilyn and Pamela were caught looking out the window eagerly awaiting the Animal Department's truck to come and pick them up!

The staff carefully transported both of the girls to their Park enclosure. Once free, Marilyn and Pamela stretched their wings in the warm sun. Both soon quieted down and perched upon their their favorite spot, side by side.

To some people, turkey vultures may not be the most attractive bird, but the next time you are at the Park, take a good look at these beauties. Notice how big their wingspan is--6' wide--and the coloration of their feathers is a striking black, white, and gray. Their red-colored, bald heads are made for eating carrion (dead animals) and keep them from getting unwanted bacteria on their feathers. They are great recyclers in the ecosystem!

An interesting fact, turkey vultures lack a syrinx--the vocal organ of birds--so their only vocalizations are grunts or low hisses. But, their keen vision and excellent sense of smell (the only North American bird to have this) make them one of the most effective scavengers on earth.

Come out and visit our resident turkey vultures, Marilyn and Pamela, at the Park soon!


Blogger Old Paper said...

I live farther north in Illinois, near Chicago, and I've always wondered about the turkey vultures. I never saw them as a kid, and now I see them all the time. Why is that?

April 13, 2010 at 10:46 PM  

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