"Look at all those buzzards! There must be a hundred of them up there." There could very well be a hundred vultures going from horizon to horizon, seeming to glide the full path without a wing beat. To get technical, they are not buzzards except by adapted local language usage. The term "buzzard" is used in the UK to describe soaring hawks and not vultures. Like it or not, the Brits are right on this one! Still, after years of associating the word buzzard with vultures I do not call any hawks "buzzards" and likely never will. Buzzard does not sound dignified enough for hawks, not to me. In fact, after being around vultures for a while, I don't call them buzzards, either.
A Young Black VultureMy name used as a watermark is added to all on-line photos to help prevent ripping of © material. Sorry it must be that way..
An American definition of buzzard will include the turkey buzzard as a alternative meaning. The term is well accepted in parts of North America, so well accepted that if you should call a soaring hawk a buzzard you will likely be corrected: "Bud, that's a chicken hawk. It sure isn't any buzzard." Truth again is there is not a hawk named "chicken hawk" but folks love to call any hawk a chicken hawk. Perhaps the bird hunting Cooper's Hawk is how chicken hawk came to be applied to hawks. A man I know grew up in Brooklyn, New York City...he spoke of chicken hawks and squirrel hawks. He could take me on a tour of New York City (I would be lost otherwise) but that tour would reveal no squirrel hawks.
As this post is continued, a pint sized box of knowledge about vultures will be opened. What I know of these neat big birds is a small plate but is truth, solid honest stuff about vultures. For instance, a vulture will prefer a fresh meal to a road side pancake. A meal recently placed on the table beats one left there for days and even vultures have a sense of preference in that. Vultures are bald headed...true of adults. The young black vulture in the photo has a full feathered "hair line". As this bird matures, the head will become grayish white and featherless. Why is that do you think? This vulture was rescued and eventually went to live in a vulture center with others of its kind unable to live in the wild. (Yes, there are licensed homes for rescued vultures.)
Vultures...are not buzzards will be continued...
The Girl Went For the Vulture. The Guy in Sunglasses Had Nothing To Say
...a very short and true vulture story
When that turkey vulture came over the second time and this stranger, a man old enough to be her father spoke of vultures, she turned to the stranger then searched the sky for the vultures again. "I had no idea," she said. A silence covered that place as nature had her time, captivating each of us watching as the vulture became only a dot in the sky then vanished.
The young lady went back talking with the guy in the sunglasses. We hiked back to the road and looked for other trails above the gorge.
What had been said that so caught the girl's attention? I told her we were moving too quickly for a turkey vulture to be interested. When looking for dinner, they choose the slowest possible moving things...dead is slow enough. And if disturbed, they will throw up. Vultures will throw up and you do not want to be there. Eating dead things preferably fresh but not always, a vulture must have an incredible defense against infection. Part of that defense is a quite high acidity in the digestive tract. The expelled material will not only smell terrible but can irritate the skin from the acid content. Of course, at the rehab center caretakers clean up the material without touching it. This is a part of vulture life, eating and throwing up more often than we would after dinner.
Notes about the vultures shown: The young vulture at the top is a Black Vulture and will have a grayish white head as an adult. The adult in the lower photo is a Turkey Vulture and has a red head and face. The wings are marked differently and the tails are shaped differently in these two breeds.
Here is a link to follow. Cornell, Black Vulture