In Memory of Motswari

Eurasian Griffon Vulture_CheyenneMtnZoo-CO_LAH_5320Colorado Springs gets a lot of hail. Anyone who has lived here very long knows that hail is part of life. But in the 25 years we’ve called Colorado home, we’ve never seen a summer like this one. Three times in the past three months, the south end of town has been pummeled by huge hailstones— softball-sized cannonballs from the clouds that demolished anything in their path. Gardens, cars, roofs, windows—the damage is devastating.

Sadly, the most recent storm also injured dozens of people, some seriously enough to be hospitalized, and killed five animals at the renowned  Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Today’s memorial post is dedicated to Cape Vulture (aka Cape Griffon) Motswari, an ambassador for her species and for vultures worldwide. Continue reading

Black Vultures

Black Vultures_EvergladesNP-FL_LAH_4670When we first saw the sign, during our recent visit to Everglades National Park, we thought it was funny. What can a bird do to our car (besides the obvious, I mean)?

Then we looked around. Black Vultures were everywhere—in the trees, on the ground, and yes, pecking at the cars. Most people had used the tarps provided to protect their cars, but one black sedan was left exposed. Perhaps the owner didn’t believe the sign. We watched, amazed, as several birds carefully pecked off all the black rubber around the windows. It looked like they were eating the wipers as well. And let’s not forget the extremely acidic vulture droppings burning their way through the nice, shiny paint job.

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Turkey Vultures

turkey-vulture_parguera-pr_lah_7209c

Q: Why didn’t the Turkey Vulture pay the airline’s luggage surcharge?
A: All he had was carrion.

Frequently portrayed as sinister black birds hunched over a dying cow or feasting on road kill, Turkey Vultures could be the perfect Halloween birds. But are they really as evil (or disgusting) as the image suggests? Get to know them a bit better, and you might be surprised at how interesting these huge birds can be. You might even find them endearing.

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