Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Rare Find

I am excited about this post as in my or John's lifetime we have never seen anything like this. I have wondered at times where buzzards make their nests, but have never seen a nest that would be big enough that would hold a bird that big. We have quite a few fly around here and roast over by the reservior at night.

Buzzards are not the prettiest bird God created, and most times under appreciated none the less, but they are designed to do a very important job in our ecosystem.

Here at the farm they have actually alerted us to a preditor problem, because if we spot them in the pasture we know they are probably munching on a dead egg chicken. This means something else had to killed it and there may be others dead as well (or will be) if we don't stop it.

Buzzard 101 (you came here to learn something right?!?!)

* Buzzards are really called Turkey Vultures--some call them turkey buzzards--- or some just call them buzzards....which is what everyone I know calls them.

* They range from southern Canada to the bottom tip of South America but only live in our part of the country from spring to fall. They fly back south for the winter.

* They have special legal protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

* They roost in large community groups.

* They lack any vocal organs so their vocalizations are grunts and low hisses.

* Their diet consists of meat with everything being dead (which they never kill themselves). They eat those carcasses that are freshly killed but avoid those that have reached the point of putrefaction.

* It finds it's meals with it's keen vision and great sense of smell. Foraging by smell is an ability uncommon to other birds. It flies low to the ground to pick up a scent of ethyl mercaptan, a gas produced by the beginnings of decay in dead things. This heightened ability to detect odors even allows it to search for food that is below the forest canopy.

*Breeding season starts in March, peaks in April and May and continues into June.

*Courtship rituals involve several individuals gathering in a circle, where they perform hopping movements around the perimeter of the circle with wings partially spread.

*Buzzards make their nesting sites in protected locations such as cliffs, caves, rock crevice, burrows inside a hollow tree or in a thicket.

This is the hollow tree that they are in. We wouldn't of known they were in there if the parent won't of flown out when we drove by. It took some effort for it to get out of that hole too.

*There are usually only 2 eggs in a nest.
*The nest has little or no construction and eggs are laid on a bare surface.

Well no wonder I've never seen a buzzard nest--they don't really make one. It took me some effort to get a pic of the inside of this nest as I was standing on my tippy toes just to peak in. The nest was a good foot down from the opening in the top. They picked a good spot.

*Both parents incubate the eggs with hatching coming around 30-40 days.
*Both help in feeding the young by regurgitation.

The eggs were about the size of an x-large chicken egg. For an ugly bird they actually have pretty eggs.

Since both help in the parenting process, this is either mom or dad buzzard watching from a tree far above after I scared it out of the nest when I came up to it. It appears way closer than what it really was. I didn't seem to bothered by me being there. I am hoping to get back out there and take another pic of the babies when they hatch and post them here. We'll see how apathetic they are then. I have visions of them swooping down and getting tangled in my hair though.

Looks like our buzzards are following typical buzzard protical. Check back for buzzard baby updates.


While I was out in the woods, there were some wild flowers blooming:

Call either May Flower or May Apple: It blooms underneather the really big leaf (that I've seen much bigger than a dinner plate) which can hide the flower if you don't look carefully.

Jack in the Pulpit: It has a bloom but it's the same color as the plant so it's easy to miss too. Seems like I smelt it and it didn't have a smell.

This one was everywhere but no one here knows what it's called. Can anyone tell us?

Honeysuckle: This is a bush but we have lots of these everywhere. I've seen a few different colors besides this one on other bushes. It smells really good.

1 comment:

earthmama said...

Great information about the buzzards. Awesome find and pictures of the nest. I look forward to pictures of the chicks.