Monday, August 22, 2011

Vultures are Vultures...Vultures are not Buzzards...

"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 Vulture
My 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

Monday, August 15, 2011

Red Tailed Hawk Beak and Eye Close Up

This is the same young bird of prey in the post below. After seeing the photos showing the beak close up, I decided to post today for anyone who wants to see a good look at a red tailed hawk beak.  The eye is clean and clear but is not quite the richer iris color of the mature red tailed hawk...a little more time and the eye will be that of an adult. On the chest there is more "butter scotch" color than when Jesse was younger.  A detailed full shot of this hawk will be posted when I get a really good one.

Click for larger view. Sorry, the watermark across the photo is needed to help prevent unauthorized use of photographic property belonging to me and the raptor center.  For prices of large prints without the watermark please email me from link at top right. I will clear your email from the spam blocker and get back with you, keeping your information private.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

News Today: Young Red Tailed Hawk Has Grown Red Tail Feathers

Breaking News..September 10,2011, the Red Tailed Hawk is now grown up...the Red Tail Feathers Are In and Beautiful.
See photo below...

Birds of Prey Go Through Stages of Growing Into Adult Hawks and Owls We Recognize.  The Tail Feathers of the Red Tailed Hawk are a Dramatic Example...

If you look back at the post from June 2, 2011, you will see Jesse, a young hawk in training as a educational bird. Notice the tail has no red feathers!  The red tailed hawk must grow those rich brownish red tail feathers as it matures. Also, the eye color will become the striking rich orange brown of the adult. This young hawk does not yet have the adult eye color but is quite close. 

To find that earlier post look under the "secret behind ancient trees" photo on the right and click on the post theme "Raptors and Raptor Rehab".  When that comes up scroll down to see find the back view of this hawk with stripped but no red tail feathers.  While in the theme of raptors, you will also see a post showing the growth of a Broad Winged Hawk born this year and now released back into the wild.

I find the color of these new feathers marvelous.  During a fairly recent visit, this hawk would not turn around long enough for a decent photograph.  I saw only two red feathers and one of those was just starting to come in. 

Count the feathers from today.  There are five, including 4 long feathers and a shorter one which will reach the proper length fairly soon.  The feathers beneath are still the juvenile stripped feathers and will be dropped and replaced with the tail feathers giving this kind of hawk its name.

Today, unlike any previous visits, Jesse the red tailed hawk seemed to strut her(or his) new colors.  "Look at me! This is great!"

Edited On 9-16-2011
This hawk strutted on September 10, 2011 when I went to take a look. All the red tail feathers are in and are beautiful. Now you know about the red tail feathers. 


As always, I thank the Creator for these magnificent animals and am very grateful to be a volunteer photographer for the Clinch River Raptor Center.  The raptor center is part of the Clinch River Environmental Sciences Organization, a source of excellent research, rehab, educational programs and learning provider for many school children.  The organization does bird banding, box turtle research, snake research and other environmental projects along with the raptor rehabilitation and education functions.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Treasure..beyond the empty void of in small things

This is a treasure…the torn and imperfect web of some night spider, now served well and covered with dew from the morning fog. But I feel many treasures, often in simple things like the spider web or a cormorant surprising me and rising from the river inlet and passing close. From a distance that dark bird is a treasure. Don’t try to hold one. That neck is fast and definite with a defensive swing of the head wielding the beak it uses for fishing. You will let go. The bird will fly away.

There is an old Welsh creeping climbing rose bush at the corner of the drive. I spend time in the spring tying back the eager new canes. When the buds come we await the blossoms and when the blossoms come we take each new one to hold and smell the fresh sweetness. These old style roses have short lived blossoms, yet when gone, there is a springtime snow storm of petals around the bush.

Yet, these are not my treasure. The treasure is being able to enjoy these things. You see, there are times when life takes from you, empties you and leaves behind a pit of emptiness you cannot fill. So this is why the ancients considered the tummy the center of emotion, knowing when the heart is broken the middle of each of us is hollow, craving to be filled but nothing can take away the constant void within. Oh, that is real. I have felt it and lived through it over time.  At those times, the beauty of the spider web is seen but not realized. The sweet fragrance of the rose is sensed but there is little joy; emptiness remains to overshadow the joy. Part of us is missing and we do not know how to get it back and be whole again. The little treasures slip away. I wish that emptiness happen to no one but we each will face it sometime and again.

My best treasures are well defined: My God, my wonderful wife, my little family. With those treasures in my life I may go to the river and look through the fog at beauty, or smell the rose, or laugh at the funny sound of toads having a conversation. With these treasures, I am not empty. With these treasures I am greatly blessed and may endure more than I would imagine in the circumstances of life.  I have found value in blessings large and small, each allowing us to soak in the small treasures around us.   To be thankful is a good thing.