|Turkey Vulture drawing by Trudy Smoke|
I know they are weird looking, even scary and eerie, but I am fascinated by turkey vultures, Cathartes aura. My fascination came from drawing them, reading about them, and then seeing a “venue” (yes, a group of them is called a venue or a volt) of them sitting on an electric line upstate. And when they flew off and became a “kettle” of soaring vultures, I was enthralled. Here are just a few of the amazing things about turkey vultures: They have no voicebox, so they can’t sing or call but instead hiss and grunt. They have 6’ wing spans and look like eagles when they fly, but their bills and feet aren’t designed to kill. They eat what is already dead—they are nature’s clean-up system. Their heads are entirely bald so they can poke deep into the carrion and the dead flesh won’t stick to any feathers. If you are wondering how they find their meals, they have a remarkable olfactory sense; they can locate the smell of decaying meat miles off and they circle until they find the dead creature. When I first looked at them, I said “who could love this ugly thing?”and then I started to draw one. And that was it--I was hooked.