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‹ Growing Native with Petey Mesquitey

Vultures and Cranes

March 1, 2022
Growing Native with Petey Mesquitey
Growing Native with Petey Mesquitey
Vultures and Cranes

When I was a boy vultures were called buzzards. It’s an interesting common name that came across the ocean with early British colonists who had no vultures in their home country, but where hawks were called buzzards. “These large birds soaring over Jamestown must be a type of buzzard,” the colonist said.
Our vultures are in the family Cathartidae and we have 3 in Arizona; the turkey vulture, the black vulture and the California condor. Cool! And yes, turkey vultures will vomit when distressed or disturbed and yes they do urinate/defecate (your choice!) onto their legs when they get hot. It’s a form of evaporative cooling called urohidrosis. Kids, do not try this at home!
Below is a poster for the Bisbee, Arizona celebration. See you there?

Sandhill cranes have been wintering over in the Sulfur Springs valley since the mid 1960s. The expansion of irrigated agricultural fields and the availability of shallow waters for roosting ( Willcox Playa) were the draw for this ancient migratory bird. Now a days there are a few spots to see them: the Willcox Playa, Whitewater Draw and…I’m not making this up… the Willcox golf course. AND if you get out and about in the valley you can find them feeding in the aforementioned agricultural fields. Sandhill cranes, by the way, are Grus canadensis with some subspecies as well. So now you know. Below is a well known quote, but always worth the repeating.
“When we hear [the crane’s] call we hear no mere bird. We hear the trumpet in the orchestra of evolution. He is the symbol of our untamable past, of that incredible sweep of millennia which underlies and conditions the daily affairs of birds and men.” – Aldo Leopold

Cathartes aura,   Growing Native,   Grus canadensis,   Petey Mesquitey,   sandhill cranes,   turkey vulture,  


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