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Turkey Vulture - Sky Sailor

Master of the air!

Although some of the Turkey Vulture's habits may evoke our disgust, these remarkable birds also inspire our awe. With wingspans approaching six feet, Turkey Vultures ride currents of air to make their spring and fall journeys, and to cover the miles of their home range in summer. Gliding on updrafts, or pushed along by weather fronts, Turkey Vultures rarely need to flap their wings more than ten times in a row. To rise above storms, they ride upward on thermals.

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Transcript: 

BirdNote®

Turkey Vulture – Sky Sailor

Written by Todd Peterson

This is BirdNote!

[Sound of wind over pastureland]

We’re hearing just the sound of wind, because Turkey Vultures – masterful sky sailors – are rarely heard.

With wingspans approaching six feet, Turkey Vultures ride currents of air to make their spring and fall journeys, and to cover the miles of their home range in summer. Gliding on updrafts along hills and escarpments, or pushed along by weather fronts, they rarely need to flap their wings more than 10 times in a row. To rise above storms, they may ride upward on thermals, disappearing from sight. But when they circle low, you will not mistake their naked red heads and deeply slotted black primary feathers, which the wind separates and turns up expressively.

With their wings canted in a dihedral “V,” Turkey Vultures tilt upwind from side to side to catch the stink of carrion, their primary food.

The Turkey Vultures’ keen sense of smell often enables them, even though high aloft, to locate dead animals not found by earthbound scavengers even carcasses concealed below a forest canopy! They’re an avian clean-up crew, removing tons of carcasses from the landscape. And they are skillful and beautiful flyers, using the shifting currents of the sky to carry them on their way.

[Sound of wind over pastureland]

For BirdNote, I'm Michael Stein.

###

Sound of wind Nature Essentials SFX #2 recorded by Gordon Hempton, QuietPlanet.com.

BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.

Producer: John Kessler

Executive Producer: Chris Peterson

© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org    July 2014   Narrator: Michael Stein

ID#  072005TUVU    TUVU-02b

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