Monday, August 11, 2014

Interesting and Weird Facts About Turkey Vultures to Know and Forget

Turkey Vultures “Cathertes Aura” is Latin for cleansing breeze. They are also known as Turkey Buzzards and in the Caribbean they are called John Crows. They are found from southern Canada all through the continental US to the tip of South America. During fall they migrate to the western and southern coast of the US and down into South America. When they migrate they form large swirling flocks called kettles.They are one of the few birds that have a sense of smell. In fact they have the largest known olfactory system of any bird which they use to locate their favorite food carrion or dead animals. When they are sitting in a group in a tree above a dead animal the group of birds is called a wake. One other unusual physical feature about them is that they don’t have a voice box. This limits them to hissing a a screeching sort of grunt as they can’t sing. They will often make such a noise when alarmed and taking flight. If cornered Turkey Vultures will vomit on their attacker. Even baby vultures will do this when startled. Because vultures feed on dead carrion they lack feathers on the head and feet. This limits the time needed for preening and prevents bacterial growth. It also gives them the red headed appearance that remind people of them resembling a turkey. Hence the name “Turkey Vulture”. One of the more bizarre facts about them is that they can’t sweat. As a result of this they will sometimes pee on their legs in the summer heat to cool down! This process is called urohydrosis. That’s pretty wild and stinky as well! They are also one of the few birds that has a rather large wing to weight body ratio. Their wings are very large for their body allowing themselves to gorge on food when they find it and still be able to fly. Because of this when they haven’t eaten in awhile their wings have too much lift. So to keep from rising they tip back and forth as they are flying to lose lift from their wings. The last fact that I will leave you with is that when they dry their wings in the sun with their wings spread out it is called a horaltic pose. I'm sure that is a lot more than you will ever need to know about Turkey Vultures. God bless, chris Images created with a Canon 7D and a Canon 100-400 IS lens

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