Friday, July 23, 2010

A Face Only A Mother Could Love - Turkey Vulture & Bald Eagles

The Bald eagles have been very busy with the seal pup carcass. They have been soaring about and sitting vigil in the trees. There have been two adults, definitely a male and a female based on side by side size comparisons. I think the one sitting on the pier is the male as it looks more slender and slightly smaller than the one ravaging the carrion. There is also a juvenile. I'm guessing second to third year. The juvie looks as if it is double banded. It is probably the offspring of the pair who I'm sure are the parents of The Butchie Boys. That would make Junior here a sibling to The Butchies, though not a nest mate. There have also been ravens and crows and of course, gulls interested in the pup remains.
     I have had a reader wish for me a Moon tide to take it away and another suggestion that I dump lime on the carcass. I'll put up with the wafting of rotten meat, thank you. Although, last night while I was sitting on my deck having a glass of wine and chatting with my husband, the stench was pretty intense. I had to keep shooing flies from the rim of my glass. I guess I should have been drinking faster to keep them away. Nonetheless, I would not alter the carcass. It's a naturally occurring event in a natural place. I'm fascinated by the birds and beasts that are drawn to it, not to mention the millions of insects and organisms that I can't even see! Plus, I'm hoping that eventually, I'll be able to get the seal skull. Cool!
The majestic and pretty animals aren't the only ones that cotton to the carrion. This lone Turkey vulture tilted around a few times before landing on our roof deck. David and I were married on the very spot where it stood. I consider myself very lucky to wake up each morning to David's smiling face. Can you imagine waking up to this face every day?
"Honey, have you thought about a nose job?"

Did you know that the Greek tragedy, Prometheus Bound took place on our pier? Prometheus intercepted Zeus' plans to wipe out the human race right here in Phippsburg, Maine.
    Turkey vultures are wide spread around the world. In Maine, they are migratory. Some of them go as far as South America. Their enormous, six foot wing span casts an ominous shadow when they pass. 'Buzzards,' as they are sometimes called, find their food mostly by sight. They can actually see the gasses that arise from decomp. (They always say that in crime shows, one cop to another at crime scenes, "Lue! Smell the holy decomp.!"). Birds have the sensory devices to detect smell, but for most it's not highly developed. Odors dissipate quickly in tree tops and the sky where birds usually hang out, so they don't have much use for smell. Vultures are an exception with a highly developed sense of smell. They have a nasal septum which is hollow so you can see through to the other side.  I've seen kids with ear lobe expanders that look like that. To me, they both beg the question "Why?"

Thanks to Wikipedia for information on Turkey Vultures.
For more information on avian sense of smell, click here.

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  1. Don't like the vulture.

  2. Now, now! Is that any way to talk? That poor, ugly thing was somebody's darling baby once upon a time.

  3. We have turkey vultures here in New Mexico. I have to say, they always creep me out a little. Often they will gather together... and I wonder what has drawn them there. I shudder. Beautiful photography Robin. Thanks so much.
    P.S. Are all male bald eagles smaller than the females?

  4. Laurie, As far as I know all male Balds are smaller than females. And as for the vultures, I too am a little creeped out. I have to admit that when I see them I feel the urge to keep moving lest they mistake me for dead meat.

  5. Thanks your posts and pics!!

  6. Well, that's one bird I don't want coming to my house!! Keep him in Phippsburg until he migrates.

  7. I envy you where you live, what you get to see...Yes more please!
    Lunchlady 2

  8. I'm going to have to send the hubby and nestlings over here to see the pictures. You don't happen to have a picture of 10 of them (eagles that is) together do you?

  9. i hope my post sending people here finally got you noticed.

  10. Spectacular, thank you.
    l'Heure Bleue

  11. Lovely to meet you, Robin. I agree with everyone here--these photos are wonderful! Such detail! My dear friend, G, will be in Bar Harbor on vacation this coming week. She's taking her camera so I hope she gets some pics even half as good as these! I'm adding you to my fav's list so I'll know when you post. Thanks for sharing these with us!

    Rated. D
    Yarn Over

  12. Spectacular photos.

  13. Wonderful and fully approve of your keeping the corpse around to let nature take its course--whether it be main or side dish.

    Gorgeous photos and I love your obsession with birds.

  14. excellent photos and prose- I'd love to see more
    hyblaean- Julie