Thursday, May 3, 2012

Egg Season

Black Vulture on eggs
In the spring, a young bird's fancy turns to thoughts of... making babies!  Evidence of this trend abounds along Bull Creek this week.

The most dramatic has been the return of the Black Vulture family.  I first saw them close up in March when I drove within six feet of a pair sitting on the corral fence.  They didn't budge when I stopped, suggesting that they were the ones that became acclimatized to us during their nesting last year in the old barn.

Black Vulture Babies- Day 1
We waited patiently for three weeks, afraid we might scare them away, then looked in the barn on April 1.  Our patience was rewarded by the sight of two large blotchy eggs.  We didn't see them again for a month as one of the parents remained on them full time.  Last year they would flush on our entry, further evidence that they had lost fear of us.

On May 1 the chicks first appeared, cute fuzzy little balls that are sure to elicit a response of "awhhh."  Unlike the bluebird and chickadee babies in bluebird boxes who lay still with their eyes shut for the first few days, vultures are born with their eyes open and their feet moving.   They still aren't a ball of energy yet, their main tricks are limited to turning their head and a little wiggling. 

At the other end of the field, we came across a turkey nest with eight eggs in a elderberry thicket.  We returned two days later to see if there was any activity and Barb crept up on the area to investigate.  (See turkey flush above)  It was like flushing a quail on steroids.  If you think that the flushed turkey was startled, you ought to try being the "flusher."

Turkey Nest
This time there were just 6 eggs in the nest.  Sadly, when we returned today, we could see from a distance that the nest area was trampled down and empty aside from a few small dark feathers.  The good news is that incessant gobbles ring throughout the Bull Creek valley, advertising the opportunities to love and mother again.

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