Buzzards Have Personalities

by Stephanie Suesan Smith on July 10, 2011

Most of us have seen buzzards around.  We have two types in this area.  The Black Headed Buzzard is not just a carrion eater.  He will actually kill calves and other weak and vulnerable animals if he can.  Most ranchers hate these buzzards because of this.  Of course, buzzards and vultures are protected under federal law.  That doesn’t always keep them safe, though.

The other buzzard we have around here is the Turkey Vulture.  He has a bald red head instead of a bald black one.  His personality is different, too.  As far as I know, while he will sit on the fence with a bunch of buddies waiting for something to die, he doesn’t hurry along the process.

Buzzards and Vultures are all about conserving energy.  In the morning, they land on a telephone pole outside my study window.  They stand with their backs to the sun, and spread their wings to warm them.  A vulture might sit there 30 minutes, turning this way and that to make sure every part of his body is warmed.  They groom themselves and for all the world look like vain women at a dress shop, trying to see if this dress makes them look fat.

I often watch these antics and enjoy them as I write.  This morning, though, one of the regulars decided to watch me, too.  That was rather unnerving, to have a large bird of prey staring at me with his undivided attention.  I was glad he was on the telephone pole and I was inside the house!
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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Sonny July 11, 2011 at 10:26 pm

You’ve described what sounds like the beginning scene out of some horror tale. A story similar to yours might be what inspired Hitchcock or Edgar Allen Poe…
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Stephanie Suesan Smith July 12, 2011 at 6:50 am

Well, if there were more than one doing that, I can see it getting creepy. But just one at a time is interesting.


Ben from Green Powder July 13, 2011 at 5:40 pm

I thought all buzzards and vultures only ate carrion. I didn’t know that some would actually kill. That’s tough because, like you said, they’re protected so you can’t kill them if they’re threatening your animals. Out where we’re at, it’s the owls that are predatory. They get huge. One time, one of our cats actually got picked up by an owl and carried a short distance. Luckily, the cat was so heavy that the owl dropped him, but it was pretty scary.
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Stephanie Suesan Smith July 13, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Cats and small dogs are regularly killed by outdoor predators of all types. That is one reason they should be indoors or closely supervised.


Jake from Magic Mesh July 15, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Our zoo has a buzzard display. As I understand it, “buzzard” refers to turkey vultures only. I think the ones on the display are the black vultures. They are really smelly though. They do things like roll around in dead meat, and urinate on themselves when they are scared. I’ve only been in the exhibit once – once was enough for a lifetime.


Stephanie Suesan Smith July 16, 2011 at 5:44 am

They may be smelly, but they have an immunity to salmonella and other common poisons that allows them to eat rotting meat. They are also nature’s trash men. Without them we would be knee deep in dead animals.


Jake from Magic Mesh July 16, 2011 at 8:18 am

True – but I don’t need to visit them at the zoo 😀


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