VOL. 17 ISSUE NO. 13   |   MARCH 30 – APRIL 5, 2011


Turkey Vultures flock to one of Carefree’s oldest citizens


CAREFREE – Last week, as a Carefree resident, who asked not to be identified, woke to celebrate her 98th birthday, she became startled to find a venue of Turkey Vultures roosting in the trees behind her home.
turkey vultures
A venue of Turkey Vultures converged in the trees behind one of Carefree’s oldest residents last week on her 98th birthday.
Photo by Linda Bentley

Wondering if the ominous sight of dozens of vultures suddenly converging behind her home was an omen, she became alarmed when they began circling above her home.

Turkey Vultures, which are the most abundant raptors in the world, are non-aggressive and only under extremely rare circumstances kill live prey.

Known as masters of soaring flight, Turkey Vultures can soar for hours using only slightly more energy than standing on the ground doing nothing.

Extremely rare for birds, the Turkey Vulture has a highly developed sense of smell and they will fly just low enough to catch the scent of decaying carrion.

Although Turkey Vultures kill the bacteria of the contaminated meat they eat with their highly acidic stomachs, they prefer fresh kill over rotten meat if given a choice.

Protected by International Migratory Bird Treaties, the Turkey Vulture’s numbers are strong with few natural enemies.

However, when a vulture does feel threatened or feels its nest is threatened, it vomits.

The vomit has a horrible stench, burns if it gets in the eyes of a predator and lightens the vulture to assist with lift off to fly to safety.

Well-known in the community as a water color artist, the Carefree woman’s fears were immediately assuaged after contacting the Turkey Vulture Society.

The nonagenarian soon became so enamored with the birds, she decided to enter the Turkey Vulture Society Art Contest and donated $1,000 to name and sponsor Turkey Vultures undergoing rehabilitation.