Monday, July 25, 2016

Juvenile Turkey Vulture on the Tuolumne Parkway Trail (and mama needs to talk to him/her about smoking)

My exploration on the Tuolumne Parkway Trail in Waterford had all kinds of surprises this morning. I saw River Otters for the first time in my life, I saw a sparrow attacking itself in a side-view mirror, and there was this, a juvenile Turkey Vulture blocking the pathway. I was turning a corner on the trail and saw a big black thing, and couldn't tell right away what it was. It had a gray colored head, so I mentally eliminated vulture and thought turkey, but as I drew closer I could see the beak more clearly. It was definitely a Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura). A few moments of research back at the house confirmed it. The juveniles don't have the characteristic red heads of the adult vultures.
I'm sure it will learn soon enough to be wary of humans. I was worried at first that it was injured as it didn't fly away as I approached. I waited a fair bit of time to let it decide to move out of the way, but eventually I walked forward and it flew into the brush. While I was waiting, a feral cat came out out of the brush and they studied each other for awhile.

The strange title has to do with what the young vulture was doing when I arrived on the scene. It had something in his/her mouth, and I didn't find out until later on that it was a cigarette butt. That little juvenile delinquent was smoking (sort of)! The concept is a bit funny, but the actuality is a bit worrisome. We leave a lot of trash in the environment, and a lot of it is dangerous to creatures who might get into it. The new trail has been mostly trash-free, but I still have to take a trash bag with me sometimes when I walk.

1 comment:

  1. Blech!! Hate seeing butts thrown to the ground (we won't even talk about scorching heat and fire risk). Both my parents were heavy smokers but always took a little metal tin - similar to film canisters - and always disposed of their ashes and butts in them. I hate seeing butts thrown into the giant available garbage can called the ground - laziness and thoughtlessness in spades. Oh dear, I'm getting into a rant here. Great photos, Garry - very interesting.