Aug 21 2009

Fine Weather for Vultures

Published by at 7:35 am under Birds of Prey,Musings & News

Turkey Vulture at Shavers Creek (photo by Marcy Cunkelman)We’ve had a spate of hot, humid weather that’s finally going to break this weekend.  I shouldn’t complain – after all it’s August – but I’m no lover of heat and humidity and my nose tells me it’s time for a change.

My nose?  Well, I have a pretty good sense of smell.  Too good at times.  I love the scents of honeysuckle blooming, crushed mint leaves, warm pine needles, rain in the distance and damp earth at the end of winter.  (Remember the first day you smell the earth in spring?)

Right now the hot, soupy air is great for holding smells but the hotter it gets the more unpleasant some of those smells become.  I’ve been forced to think of this when, out on a walk, my nose suddenly detects spoiling food in a nearby garbage can or dog poo next to the sidewalk.  I give those spots a wide berth but the worst smells are hard to escape … the whiffs of something dead in the bushes. 

Fortunately turkey vultures have an excellent sense of smell and they love this stuff.  On my hikes I see them soaring overhead, sniffing the breeze, looking for the source of the smells I recoil from.

I hope they find that dead something-in-the-bushes.  They shouldn’t have much trouble.  It’s been fine weather for vultures.

(photo of a turkey vulture at Shaver’s Creek by Marcy Cunkelman)

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Fine Weather for Vultures”

  1. Steve Von 21 Aug 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Here is a good article on vultures from

  2. Kate St. Johnon 21 Aug 2009 at 7:07 pm

    Great article, Steve. Thanks for letting us know about it.

  3. Anne Curtison 21 Aug 2009 at 10:45 pm

    This evening, on the patio at Cafe Sam’s (wonderful restaurant!) I looked up and saw at least three flights of large birds–crows?–circling and then landing on the upper stories of the Cathedral of Learning. They moved in, and landed so quickly I couldn’t alert my husband, who was facing away, to turn around before they disappeared. 1) I was not having “floaters”, and 2) I guess this means the peregrines are totally gone? Anne

  4. Dianeon 21 Aug 2009 at 11:12 pm

    I certainly enjoyed the vulture info. Once while working in rehab I was the recipient of vulture vomit. Let me tell you………it is quite impressive! I remembered the smell for many months:)

  5. Pattyon 25 Aug 2009 at 10:50 am

    Speaking of late-summer smells, there is a fragrance in the air that I have loved since I was little. I seem to only catch a whiff while walking or riding past a woodsy or park-like area; don’t seem to notice it in the city. It is hard to describe–not quite sweet, maybe a “dusty” smell. Definitely not mildew or decaying leaves; I think it must be a flowering weed. I’d plant it in my yard if I ever found out! Reminds me of family picnics in North Park, years ago. Anyone know what it might be?

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