Online Vultures

I finally put my vulture bag patterns on Patternfish after Barb Holman sent me the wonderful wake-up call below.

Juvenile turkey vulture that Barb rehabilitated – isn’t he cute? 

I admire them from afar, but Barb helps all sorts of raptors and knows a lot about them. The following may be more than you want to know, but I found it very interesting. Describing the photos, she said “Anyway, here is the only juvenile turkey vulture I ever rehabbed. I’ve rehabbed several rascally adults but this little guy came to us almost right out of the egg. I wish I had photographed him then because when they’re hatched all white soft fluff with that beautiful black head, and they’re rather nice to get along with. These photos show his black feathers coming in and his black head. Their heads turn red with sexual maturity.”

“I’m sure you already know these things but just in case … They keep cool by urinating on their feet. Early in the morning, they’ll gather in groups high up in the trees and turn their backs to the rising sun to warm up. They’re easy to recognize in flight by the dihedral (V) angle of their wings and silvery grey underside of their flight feathers. Most birds have no sense of smell which is why you can put a chick back into their nest without the parent noticing. Vultures hunt mainly by smell and can detect carrion far away.”

“They actually have very delicate systems and regurgitate their food at the slightest upset. Luckily, they’re not picky and will simply re-eat it. Disgusting to most people but, like all of nature, they serve the very important role of cleaning up.”

“As adults, they can be very dangerous to handle. I once read of a rehabber being killed when he held an adult vulture too close to his face and the bird reached up and bit his neck, opening his carotid artery. I was very accustomed to handling large birds of prey and trained several as education birds. My own bird, Luna, was a great horned owl I trained from nestling age.”

“I caught and handled adult vultures fairly often as well. They’re huge by comparison to all but eagles and condors and very strong. The big difference in safety while handling them is that other raptors use their talons as their main defense while the vulture’s feet and talons are relatively weak. Its that beak that you must be very aware of.”

“We have many eagles where I live now and yesterday, moved roadkill off the road so the feeding eagle wouldn’t be hit while enjoying his lunch. Beautiful birds and try as I might, didn’t get a good photo.  Also have vultures here … We’re at the top of a hill on a peninsula overlooking the Lake of the Ozarks and I love watching them circle, higher and higher in order to make it over our roof. We have often found as many as ten of them sitting on our deck rail discussing whatever it is that vultures discuss.”

“Being on the lake, the eagles come every year and a few winter over. We even have a nest not far away and have watched the youngsters fledge. A couple of years ago, we were down the hill on the bank of the lake. It was very cold and quiet and suddenly, almost in front of us, a gull swooped low and dropped a big fish. Right behind him, a huge eagle landed on the ice and took the fish. Behind her came a smaller male and a juvenile. They made no move to take the fish she had stolen from the gull and the gull just kept going. I’m assuming their sexes because, with raptors, the sexes usually look alike (no sexual dimorphism as with most other birds) and the female is half again larger than the male. An exception to this rule is the American kestrel. Its our smallest true falcon, the sexes are marked differently but about the same size.”

She sent the pictures because of my old blog post about the Carrion Bag.

Vulture Purse and Carrion BagTapestry Crochet Vulture Purse and Felted Carrion Bag

You might already have these patterns because the Vulture Purse used to be available online, but was taken down when The Inside Loop went out of business. The instructions for the Carrion Bag are included in The Anticraft Book. Fortunately, I was able to keep the copyrights, which means that I can distribute these patterns myself. So the Vulture Purse for Right Handers and Vulture Purse for Left Handers and the felted Carrion Bag for Right Handers and Carrion Bag for Left Handers are now for sale – just in time for Halloween!

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