Awhile back I was walking with someone who wanted to get some pictures of kitsch. What better place to select than Murphys Diggins, our “ 5-Star Adult Mobilehome Community”. Now this is important as neither of us had a clue what was happening as we noticed the sky around us becoming more and more laced with birds. But not just any birds, Turkey vultures, carrion eater’s. weee ohhhhh weeeeeee (think Dark Shadows Theme – my mom found it when it was in reruns and became addicted, hmn wonder if I’d bought the music- I’d have more easily dropped into homework mode in later years …).
Here you can see a couple of the roofs of the double-wides and all those little black specks that you can make out are vultures. It was creepy. Very creepy. Scary creepy. Their wingspan is about 6 feet – these are large birds. My walking companion confessed that at first she thought they were following us. Every time she turned around, there would be a bunch and their numbers continued to increase as our walk wore on. Then, we started to conjecture that some member of the senior home park was deceased, but yet undiscovered. We aren’t birders and truly didn’t have a clue (uninformed would be the word). Living in the mountains you do see turkey vultures in the area if someone has hit a deer, squirrel, raccoon or whatever. You see three, maybe five max.
Being ever the curious type, I Googled turkey vultures when I returned. Turns out, turkey vultures migrate (ooohhhh). Kern River Preserve (down south, near Bakersfield California) even has a Turkey Vulture Migration Festival in September – Saturday, September 24, 2011 – so grab your cameras and join the fun! J (Hey, what can I say, it’s Bakersfield folks). They report an average of 25,000 have been counted flying over a single point of their observation path from Sept to 3rd week in October. The birds “begin to gather in large flocks in August”; large? How about monstrous? I don’t know if they were more inland than usual, as folks who’ve lived here a lot longer than I were coming out of their homes and staring up at the sky totally dumbfounded. If you find this fascinating, they start heading south by September, with their numbers reaching a crescendo at the end of September.
It resembles a hawk in the air although Kern River tells us Turkey Vultures are more closely related to storks than true vultures.
The shots from underneath showing the silver on the wingspan always remind me of the Native American Thunderbird myths. These birds, with their 6 foot wingspan, are puny compared to the reputed size of the Thunderbirds.
Appears they like to spend the night in Murphys. Perhaps we should start our own turkey vulture migration festival. I can just picture it. You see, folks like to dress up for festivals and events here: Murphys Irish Days, Mystery Dinners, Pirate themed Wine Parties, Grape Stomp.. and on the list goes.
The antennae shot is more the “ugly” look most of us think of when we think turkey vulture – gorgeous in the air, but not even close when on the ground.