Mexico has its beautiful amber and black Monarch butterflies.
Capistrano has it's dainty and delicate cliff swallows.
Here in the Texas panhandle we have the Turkey Vulture.
I live in a canyon and two times a year(each spring and fall) we are a stopping off point for these scavengers. Sometimes there will be upwards of a hundred roosting in the tree tops near my house. They have not arrived in numbers that great yet this spring, but most days there are at least a dozen hanging about and circling overhead. The fine specimen above was incapable of flight.
He had a broken wing which has grounded him. Who knows what happened to him, but I snapped a few pictures because this is as close as I've ever gotten to one. He made a steady evil hissing sound the entire time I was near and despite my seven year old's Dr. Doolittle tendencies I did not feel compelled to nurse the bird back to health. My wife did call a local wildlife center and talk to someone but they never called back after the initial contact so that was the end of our involvement.
Here's a few facts from Wikipedia about the Turkey Vulture or buzzard as most people call them.
The Turkey Vulture has few natural predators. Its primary form of defense is regurgitating semi-digested meat, a foul-smelling substance which deters most creatures intent on raiding a vulture nest. It will also sting if the predator is close enough to get the vomit in its face or eyes. In some cases, the vulture must rid its crop of a heavy, undigested meal in order to take flight to flee from a potential predator.
The Turkey Vulture is awkward on the ground with an ungainly, hopping walk. It requires a great deal of effort to take flight, flapping its wings while pushing off the ground and hopping with its feet. While soaring, the Turkey Vultures holds its wings in a shallow V-shape and often tips from side to side, frequently causing the gray flight feathers to appear silvery as they catch the light. The flight of the Turkey Vulture is an example of static soaring flight, in which it flaps its wings very infrequently, and takes advantage of rising thermals to stay soaring.
The Turkey Vulture forages by smell, an ability that is uncommon in the avian world. It often will fly low to the ground to pick up the scent of ethyl mercaptan, a gas produced by the beginnings of decay in dead animals. The olfactory lobe of its brain, responsible for processing smells, is particularly large compared to that of other animals.
What do y'all think? Should I open a bed and breakfast to capitalize on all the tourist who are bound to come and see the great vulture migration now that I've let he cat out of the bag? By the way, now that that cat is out of the bag it better keep moving or the buzzards might think it's dead and dine on a bit of feline fricassee.