If you would like to join me for my Feathers on Friday meme, please put the link to your blog post in the comments and I’ll add the link to my post.
I was photographing prairie crocuses the other day when my first of season Turkey Vulture flew right over my head. Because of the flowers, I had just my small 50mm lens on my camera (not the best lens for far-off bird photography), but I was surprised at how well the photos turned out. A nice surprise on a spring afternoon!
Vultures all around the world are experiencing rapid population decline — hunting, secondary poisoning from the livestock drug diclofenac (a large threat for vultures in the middle east and Asia), electrocution from power lines, and habitat loss, are all causes for decline.
Vultures are scavengers that feed on carrion and with this, they fill a very important ecological niche by keeping the environment clean. They also help to prevent the spread of diseases — their strong stomach acids allow them to consume diseased meat.
The vulture species is divided into two groups: New World Vultures; found in the Americas and Old World Vultures; found in Asia, Africa, and Europe. These two groups are not genetically related but have developed similar biological traits, as their form of scavenging for food.
Take a look at this wonderful map from Birdorable which you can download here,
The only vulture species I’ve seen is the Turkey Vulture and I’ve been lucky enough to help wing tag them in 2012.
I would have posted on Friday but our internet was very slow!
Unfortunately the grouse dance I was planning to go to yesterday was canceled. The president of our local naturalist society went on the first trip last week and said there were only six birds when there are usually two to three dozen. He decided that it would be best to cancel any further trips to avoid disturbing the birds. Now we are wondering if the mild winter had something to with the decline in the grouse population numbers.
On Thursday on our way home from music lessons, I spotted a pair of Turkey Vultures at an old abandoned building. Turkey Vultures make their nests in old buildings, so I’m going to keep an eye on this pair,
2011 was a great year for birding for me. This year I saw eastern birds I had never seen before. I was able to see 145 year birds and 61 life birds. I was hoping to break the 200 barrier, so I’ll try for that next year (starting tomorrow!).
1. Long-tailed Duck (Toronto, Lake Ontario)
2. Tufted Titmouse (Central Park, NYC)
3. Great Gray Owl (our farmyard)
4. Wilson’s Snipe (across the road from our farmyard)
5. Western Meadowlark (the pasture across the road from our farmyard)
6. Yellow-rumped Warbler (the woods down the road)
I spent Tuesday from 9 am to 1 pm at the local provincial park to look for Fall migrants.
I started along the river side of the park. The first birds I saw were Black-capped Chickadees, though after looking through the photos, I realized I hadn’t taken any photos of the chickadees. I saw a quite a lot of species, from Yellow-rumped Warblers to Turkey Vultures. I saw 18 species in total: four Pied-billed Grebes, eight Red-necked Grebes, one Double-crested Cormorant, five Mallards, two Gadwalls, 10 Buffleheads, three Turkey Vultures, one Northern Harrier, 15 Ring-billed Gulls, 23 Black Terns, one Belted Kingfisher, one Blue Jay, five American Crows, countless Black-capped Chickadees, three House Wrens, 17 Cedar Waxwings, 15 Yellow-rumped Warblers, and eight White-throated Sparrows.
At first I thought this raptor was a hawk,
It was a Turkey Vulture,
One of the highlights of the trip, a Belted Kingfisher,