There are a number of reasons why I decided to take on this project. My first reason has to do with my interest in birds. This began shortly after moving to Victoria ten and a half years ago. With our house backing onto a wooded area, the chirping of birds is a familiar sound all year long. I often glance out the window to see birds of all forms in the yard throughout the day. Frequently I will pull out the Birds of Victoria or Birds of North America reference guides we have on hand. Unfortunately, the drawings in the first aren’t overly helpful for identification and the number of entries in the second is overwhelming. My second reason has to do with a photography course I took a number of years ago. Since that time I have been trying to think of a practical reason to buy a new camera. Taking pictures of birds requires a powerful zoom lens which my previous point-and-shoot camera could not accommodate. Perfect! My final reason was my desire to take on a new project to welcome in 2011. Hence, bird of the day was born.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Turkey Vulture

Cathartes aura
Very large bird
Small, unfeathered, red head
Hooked, ivory-colored bill
Brownish-black plumage
Long wings with gray flight feathers underneath
Long, rounded tail
Pink legs and feet

Listen to its call.

Leaving Island View beach this afternoon, I noticed two of these birds roosting in a dead tree by the side of the road. I was surprised at their rather comical appearance; the head is extremely small in relation to the body. After watching them for several minutes they took off over the fields. A little while later I caught sight of them soaring overhead without seeming to flap their wings at all.  They just seemed to float on the air currents. It was quite beautiful to watch. I have trouble relating these birds to the dirty, unscrupulous scavengers that their reputation affords them.

Learn more about the Turkey Vulture.

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