Each year around this time, I check the image queue for the traditional Thanksgiving Day post. Admittedly, I was a bit shocked when the queue was devoid of Wild Turkeys – a jestful reference in tribute to all the Turkeys that show up on many of our kitchen tables today. Of course, those are mere hybrids of the wild version having been “engineered” to maximize the meat at the cost of making them completely useless from a bird perspective. Their wild versions are not the most adept in the flight category, but at least they can get off the ground and make it to a nearby tree if so desired – domestic Turkeys are chained to the couch with remotes in hand . Alas, the tradition has been broken. I will have to put the Wild Turkey on the top of the 2020 hunt list (right below the elusive Snow Bunting), so this doesn’t happen again. While I am at it, might even help Ron get a decent shot in the tin as his luck with these game birds ranges somewhere between “it’s in there somewhere” and “damn, them Turks have Cheetah speed to cause a blur like that”.
All hope is not lost, I did find a substitute.
Definitely not one that poses any threat of ending up on our dinner tables, but it at least has “Turkey” in the name. The Turkey Vulture is not new to Intrigued, having debuted all the way back in 2014 (link here) and popped up several time since then (link here). Unlike true Turkeys, these rather ugly looking creatures can fly … well at least soar with the best of them. No hopping from tree to tree, these strong winged Vultures will ride the thermals to dizzying heights, making it look effortless as they slowly circle the grounds below looking for victims of predators, age, illness and the most wasteful of all… humans in their deadly deuces and curly-wurlies.
Hit the jump to read a bit more about this substitute bird.
These birds spend so much time in the air or standing over carcasses that it was a surprise to see them hanging out in trees on our trip through the Texas Gulf Coast back in 2016 (yes, straight off the 10 day old sighting of the Hairy Woodpecker from the last post and already rocketed back 3 years). They were probably just tired from migrating down from their more northern breeding grounds. The worst thing about seeing them this close is … seeing them this close. Not a bird that would end up in a Christmas jingle to a true love or be invited over to enjoy cranberries and stuffing. I am, sure they would prefer to be all gussied up like the Black Crowned Crane (link here), but the need to stick their heads into the cavities of decaying carcasses prefers the featherless adaptation. Maybe you should read this post AFTER your Thanksgiving dinner ha. In an effort to bring you some educational insights for your gracious time, I went out to Cornell to get you some more interesting tidbits. Talk about a major disappointment – they had a sum total of ONE interesting fact and it was the standard lame one about the oldest recorded specimen (just short of 17 years old if you care and Cornell, for the record, nobody should care).
Where were the answers to the questions I immediately had – why are they given the Turkey moniker… do they gobble, is it because their head looks like a snood or their ancestors were amazing bowlers. For that matter where did the Vulture title come from. I warmed up the fingers and went typing for answers. The why Turkey in the name answer ended up being a let down. Someone thought that the heads and the feathering palette were similar – I’ll give them the feather coloring, but the head is a bit of a reach. The why Vulture name was more interesting. Turns out it is derived from the word vulturus which means “tearer” in reference to the manner in which they pull the dead flesh off of decaying carcasses. Sorry, should have waited for you to finish those mashed potatoes.
Anyway, for those who celebrate the day, Happy Thanksgiving – if not your thing, maybe you can just take a few minutes and give thanks to something or someone that has helped you along the way – it’s good for the soul and with Black Friday looming hours away, everyone can use a remembrance of what humanity means.