It all started with a single pine tree on the side of the road. At first there were only a handful of them up in that one tree. But each year their numbers grew until that one tree just wasn’t big enough. So they spread. Then spread some more. Now there are dozens of them up in a cluster of at least 8-10 pine trees on the side of the road.
“They” are Turkey Vultures, and “they” are really big birds. For whatever reason, a small flock of them decided that this pine tree in front of a house not too far from where I live, was a great place to roost one fall, and so they stayed. Once spring started sizzling into summer, they took that as their cue to leave the area. Smart birds. (We have other visitors, too!)
Eventually the summer heat started to fade (good riddance) and fall returned. So did the vultures. But now there were a few more. This process has repeated itself over the past several years, and each time the flock has grown. Now instead of one tree, they hang out in nearly a dozen as their flock has grown exponentially during this time. I think a safe estimate is close to a hundred birds.
I can only imagine what it must be like for the owners of the home. I once did volunteer work for a wildlife center when I was in college, and learned a lot about a couple of rescued vultures in our care. Lovely things. They have a wing span of nearly six feet, they puke up the remnants of any undigested food and they “pee” (in bird style) on their legs to help cool themselves off. They are the type of birds that are so ugly that only a mother (or a biologist like me) could love them.
My morning departure time for work is perfect as that also happens to be the time when the flock decides it’s time to go out for the day. Imagine watching dozens of giant birds take off in near unison and start swirling upwards into the sky. I am also coming home about the same time they are, so I often catch them as they return to an available branch one by one.
Though these vultures are numerous, there are many elsewhere that are severely endangered, including vultures of Greece and other parts of the Mediterranean. Click on the link that follows to learn more about these birds and what is being done to help them. http://www.wwf.gr/en/endangered-species/vultures