Thursday, April 9, 2015

When the Vultures Come Back to Boulder

Do you know the old song When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano?   I've been remembering it this week as we've watched the vultures return to Boulder.  They migrate out for the winter, around October, and return the first of April.  Their reappearance is one of the sure signs of spring, and most people around here are happy to see them arrive.

For some reason they like to roost in a tall spruce tree about a block from here.  When we go for a walk up 6th Street (we are on Rose Hill Drive, an extension of 7th Street) in the early morning or early evening, we can see them swooping into "their tree" and gathering for the night.  In this photo there are only three, but trust me, in a few more weeks there will be about fifty!    

This picture gives a better idea of how they look when they are in the tree. 

I don't know if any other trees in Boulder attract the vultures, but I do know that our neighborhood is well known for harboring a big "kettle" of the birds.  Here's how one write up referred to this phenomena:  

"If you'd like to get up close and personal with our local turkey vultures, head over to the West Boulder neighborhoods near Flagstaff Mountain.  This area is a longtime home base to a huge kettle of turkey vultures, particularly on 6th Street between College Avenue and Baseline Road.  Take an evening stroll through this neighborhood and look up at the upper branches of the big oak trees.  When you spot them, be sure to thank our spring cleaners for all they do!  

You may be thinking "Aren't vultures those buzzard birds that eat roadkill?"  Indeed they are! And you may also be thinking "Oh, gosh, what a mess they must make pooping all over the place under that tree."   And indeed, they do make a terrible mess!  

So I was glad to see them return to the same tree and not to one closer to us.  Last fall, for some unknown reason, they spent one day in a tall spruce tree owned by our next-door neighbor, and I was a bit nervous that they might decide to choose that tree to roost in this year.  So I was very glad to spot them circling above their old haunt on 6th Street, and applauded them when I saw the first wave roosting there for the night.  

The vultures are interesting and it's fun to watch them flying in those big circles overhead, but I think we need to change the subject now!  

Here's two nice photos Ben took the other day.  

Me, looking happily au natural...

...and the first Flatiron, always a wonderful sight.

1 comment:

  1. vultures!!! Of all things, I did a vulture watercolor painting way back when I took that class. One wouldn't back off when Cole and I strode past one day. Wasn't giving up his meal to a poodle. LeeAnna


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