Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 55

May 14. Turkey vultures are secretive nesters, however, and while researchers think they nest throughout the state, during the first Breeding Bird Atlasing, only one percent of observations were those of nests. That’s because the females usually lay their one to three, creamy-white, blotchy eggs in deep recesses, such as caves, crevices and ledges, in mammal burrows, cavities in banks, or in large, hollow logs. Once they find a good nesting area, they often reuse it for long periods. A mated male and female frequently sit together near their nest site for days or weeks before nesting and engage in what researchers call “follow flight,” something I’ve observed over First Field, when one bird flies behind and above the leading bird, often twisting and turning just as the leader does. Sometimes the trailing bird dives at the leading one, partly folding its wings and diving directly toward it while the leading bird twists sideways and drops and the trailing bird flies upward again, neither bird touching the other. Other displays, such as ritualized “dancing,” bill-gaping and wing spreading have also been observed by researchers before the birds mate on the ground, rocks or in trees, while nibbling or poking at each other’s naked, red heads. After the female lays her second egg, she and her mate take turns incubating them. It takes from 38 to 40 days for the eggs to hatch; young are downy with naked faces, throats and crop areas. The parents also take turns brooding them until they are two weeks old and feed the young by regurgitation. By 18 days of age, they are able to stand up and retreat into the recessed nest to escape predators. They can also stomp their feet, hiss and perform what ornithologists call “scare jump” or “scare rush,” when they lunge forward, their heads thrust upward, flap their wings, open their bills and hiss in a bluff attack. Such an attack was enough to turn my Uncle Cal permanently against “buzzards,” as he called them when he told me about MARCH 2010 crawling into a cave outside Pottstown when he was a teenager and meeting the “scare rush.” Between 70 and 80 days of age, nestlings become fledglings, flying above the canopy, and leave the nest area for communal roosts when they are 12 weeks old, about the time in August when the Lang’s roost increases in size for a few weeks before the vultures are gone for another year. Turkey vultures are unique among vulture species because they can smell as well as see their prey, which is why black vultures often follow turkey vultures to a carcass and then bully them away from it. One early May day, as I approached the Far Field, I spotted a turkey vulture in a tree that spread and shook its wings but remained on its perch. One of our turkey hunters had told me about a dead deer there. Then I noticed a second turkey vulture in the same tree, while a third wheeled overhead. After a few minutes, the first vulture soared off. Suddenly, a black vulture flew up from the ground, sat in a tree a short time, and flew back down onto the dead deer hidden in the grass below. After picking at the carcass for a few minutes, it flew up to the remaining turkey vulture and chased it away. Then it, too, flew off. Although black vultures are a little smaller than turkey vultures, they always dominate them. The scientific name for turkey vulture is Carthartes aura, which means “breezy purifier.” As primarily scavengers, the pH of a vulture’s stomach acid is an incredibly corrosive zero, which allows them to eat rotting flesh that might contain anthrax or botulinum. In addition, they use it as a weapon, projectile vomiting on any potential predator. As if that weren’t disgusting enough, they also defecate on their legs, because the high ammonia content of their feces, ornithologist David Bird says, probably “kills off potentially harmful microorganisms picked up while standing in and wading through rotting carcasses.” Such food can most easily be found in a

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010

Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010
Life & Times of the Whitetail Biologist
Contents
The Scofflaws
The Last Shot
Hunters Connect with the Chesapeake Bay
Chasing the Dream
The Barberry Grouse
Mentored Youth Program Gobbler
The A Team
Hand-Me-Downs
Field Notes
Conservation News
Off the Wire
Another View
The Naturalist’s Eye
Straight from the Bowstring
Lock, Stock & Barrel
Fun Game
Crossings
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - Cover2
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - Life & Times of the Whitetail Biologist
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - Contents
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - The Scofflaws
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 4
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 5
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 6
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - The Last Shot
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 8
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 9
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - Hunters Connect with the Chesapeake Bay
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 11
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 12
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 13
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 14
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - Chasing the Dream
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 16
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 17
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 18
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - The Barberry Grouse
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 20
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 21
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - Mentored Youth Program Gobbler
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 23
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - The A Team
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 25
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 26
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 27
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 28
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - Hand-Me-Downs
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 30
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 31
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - Field Notes
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 33
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 34
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 35
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 36
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - Conservation News
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 38
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 39
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 40
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 41
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 42
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 43
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 44
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 45
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 46
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 47
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 48
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - Off the Wire
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - Another View
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 51
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 52
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - The Naturalist’s Eye
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 54
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 55
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 56
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - Straight from the Bowstring
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 58
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 59
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - Lock, Stock & Barrel
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - Fun Game
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 62
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - 63
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - Crossings
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - I1
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - I2
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - Cover3
Pennsylvania Game News - March 2010 - Cover4
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