Flew over east end of Waucoma Basin
Turkey Vulture over the Elm Fork Trinity River
1 July 2015: Observed a single Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) perched atop a dead tree overlooking the Elm Fork Trinity River downstream a mile from the Lake Ray Roberts dam's spillway at Elm Fork Park, Denton County, Texas (between Pilot Point and Sanger). As we began to photograph the Turkey Vulture it allowed sufficient time to obtain excellent digital images and then eventually after a good long while decided it was time to take to the air and it is these final digital images that we present here (in the four images above).
The Turkey Vulture is arguably the most widespread bird of its kind in the Americas - of the entire Western Hemisphere (see All About Birds' range map, Cornell Lab of Ornithology). Everyone and anyone in the Western Hemisphere who has ever looked up at the sky and wondered in awe or otherwise what those soaring black birds were way up on high will know they have seen a Turkey Vulture. Known for how it is that they make flight look so effortless once they're in actual flight, Turkey Vultures have an unrivaled extensive range that encompasses the southernmost reaches of Canada's southern provinces from the Pacific to the Atlantic. From there the entirety of the United States, Mexico, Central America, Caribbean and South America constitute the Turkey Vulture's domain. Widespread and abundant wherever they occur, Turkey Vultures are iconic big birds embedded in folklore, history and culture. Wherever their presence has been known they have imprinted themselves on the peoples and societies that have experienced them.
Turkey Vultures perform invaluable service to societies, peoples and wildlife everywhere in that they identify and consume dead carcasses. According to the thumbnail sketch provided by All About Birds, they "ride thermals in the sky and use their keen sense of smell to find fresh carcasses. They are a consummate scavenger, cleaning up the countryside one bite of their sharply hooked bill at a time, and never mussing a feather on their bald heads."
A Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website had this to say about the Turkey Vulture: "Biologists once thought that the turkey vulture was a bird of prey and a raptor like hawks, owls, and eagles. But, in 1994, scientists used DNA tests and found that they belonged in the stork family. This is where they are classified today." See: http://dnr.wi.gov/org/caer/ce/eek/critter/bird/turkeyvulture.htm
For longer than human beings have resided in what we now know as the Western Hemisphere, Turkey Vultures have performed their timeless watch high above the land making sure all things get noticed and given their proper attention.
True Americans long before the continents of the Western Hemisphere were thus named, Turkey Vultures are timeless reminders of a wildness that precedes us.
Elm Fork Park is administered by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).
The Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura), also known in some North American regions as the turkey buzzard (or just buzzard), and in some areas of the Caribbean as the John crow or carrion crow, is the most widespread of the New World vultures. One of three species in the genus Cathartes, in the family Cathartidae, the Turkey Vulture ranges from southern Canada to the southernmost tip of South America. It inhabits a variety of open and semi-open...