Turkey Buzzards are Nature’s Trash Guys

by Stephanie Suesan Smith on September 18, 2010

Turkey Buzzard

Image by Trostle via Flickr

There is a large telephone pole near my house that I see out my study window.  This morning I have been watching a turkey buzzard who is sitting on it.  He is warming in the sun until he is warm enough to fly around and search for a meal.  A lot of people treat buzzards with disdain, but they are nature’s garbage men.

This one is sitting there grooming himself.  The he stretches first one wing, then the other, doing his warm up calisthenics.  All the while he is running his bill over his body and straitening anything out of place.  He looks like an athlete warming up before the big game.  This is not the only buzzard that I have seen do this, as that pole is a favorite roost.  Sometime a second bird will land, or even a third.  Sometimes one pushes the other off, too.

The turkey buzzard is properly called the turkey vulture (Cathartes aura).  Biologists cringe when people use the wrong terms for critters.  Whatever you call it, the in the United States it is illegal to kill one.  Many people think buzzards kill calves.  While they do seem attracted to calving animals, they do not kill the calves.  If the animal is born dead, or the mother rejects it and it dies, the buzzard will eat it.  Black headed vultures, in contrast, will sometimes kill a calf if they can.

The turkey buzzard eats carrion, or dead things, and some vegetation.  Without buzzards, we would have carcasses piling up all over the place.  Because buzzards eat dead things, they have very strong immune systems.    Think of what would happen to you if you ate a rabbit that had been lying in the sun for a day or two!

Turkey vultures are harmless birds that perform a vital function.  They are part of a healthy ecosystem.  Welcome them and enjoy watching their morning warm up routine.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Sue September 19, 2010 at 8:10 am

Hello SUEsan…First, unique way of spelling OUR name…although mine is just SUE, and WE seem to have boocoos…txspellin’…of things in common, besides Buzzards…LOL! Secondly, thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog, CollectInTexas Gal. I’m always soooo happy to meet other Texas Gals.
I’ve been browsing around your Blogs….so you know I’ve been here awhile….went to A Writers Life first as that was the blogspot blog that popped up from your comment avatar. I’m assuming you are CC??? I enjoy reading anything about Texas….I’ll be looking for HER..Your..Texas Irish Bride.
Then, I found your .com blog, and here I am to return your visit. I’m still laughing at the fact that I popped up on Google as a reference for Turkey Buzzards….what a crazy http://www…I guess you saw the photos and post Butterflies To Buzzards.
Thanks, again for your visit. I’ve really enjoyed your blogs and I’ll visit again….very interesting and informative…I’ll Follow, too.


Stephanie Suesan Smith September 19, 2010 at 8:21 am

Caroline Clemmons is my Mother. I maintain her blog, so I guess my name is there somewhere. Sort of like you and the vultures. Thanks for stopping by.


Ileane from BasicBlogTips September 19, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Hi Stephanie, that’s an interesting shot and a nice find. I’m not familiar with turkey vultures, thanks for explaining. I guess someone has to take out the trash. 🙂
Ileane recently posted..Ever Consider Blogging Without SEOMy Profile


Stephanie Suesan Smith September 19, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Yep, some body has to do the dirty work and vultures are good at it. Thanks for stopping by.


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