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Merry Christmas to Vultures!Posted Friday, December 14, 2012, at 12:46 PM
Picture by Wikipedia
We have two distinctly different vultures in this area - the turkey vulture and the black vulture. Turkey vultures are larger, and have a red neck and head; while black vultures are solid black. Vultures have no feathers on their heads. This is because they stick their heads into carrion to pull and tear flesh. It helps with their personal hygiene!
Vultures are kindly referred to as one of nature's trash disposals. There are reasons that they only eat carrion. Vultures are not fast enough to catch live prey, and they don't have talons to use for hunting. Vultures are one of the few bird types that have a good sense of smell, which is how they find their food.
A common myth is that these birds circle overhead to indicate they have found food. This is not true. When they are in this flight pattern, they are simply catching a good thermal wind to help elevate them in the sky more efficiently.
Believe it or not, these are my favorite of the raptors. Seems weird, I know, but they are incredibly smart birds. They are much more intelligent than hawks and owls!
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Vicky Carder is a Shelbyville native. In 1991 she founded Walden's Puddle Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Nashville. There she served as Executive Director for more than 12 years. The Center is the largest wildlife hospital in Middle Tennessee. She has published in wildlife national and international journals. Now she wants to share her knowledge of native wildlife and some of the experiences she had while working with wildlife.