Vultures, Hawks and Corvids

The temperature was 57ºF this morning with a 20mph wind. Yesterday afternoon it was 105ºF with a 20mph wind, a 52º differential or DP. I often wonder how in the world can we experience such a DP between day and night. Granted it’s good for wine grapes, the cool night temperatures combined with the hot day some how binds the sugars to the pulp. That is all I know about it which is debatable at best, but it is good for the quality of the wine; Cheers.

Crows and Ravens have been on my docket for the past 3 days; I began reading (audio) a book on them. Ravens in particular, it is about the interactions between humans and the Corvid. The photo above is a Crow I took several images of Ravens yesterday but I deleted them all due to dissatisfaction with editing. They are tough to photograph due to them being pitch black with a bright blue background. Once in a while it is possible for me to get a picture with something else as a backdrop but not often.

Ravens are typically the size of Red Tailed Hawks which to me is misleading because the Female Hawks are larger than the Males. Does that mean the Female Ravens are larger than the Female Hawks with the same true of the Males? None the less some Ravens are larger than the Hawks, they are huge. After seeing a large bird in the distance I must pay strict attention in order to determine if it is a Corvid. It’s not easy to tell the difference as they have similar flying characteristics, they both work their wings mightily to gain altitude. They both will work their wings than glide in a repetitive pattern, Crows do not glide or soar making it easy to eliminate them Ravens on the other hand do. Vultures, Hawks and Ravens will fly together regularly.

Turkey Vulture
Red Tailed Hawk

I posted a photo of each as a comparison, if you notice the tips of the wings all have feathers projecting like fingers from the end. All of their wings are broad and surprisingly very proportionate to their bodies making them look the same size although the Vultures are larger. Their underbellies have distinct markings, the Vulture has black feathers on the leading edge that appear to be arms spread wide. The Hawk (Red Tailed) has a light speckled belly with light colored plumage under the wing. While the Raven is pitch black.

The Vulture is easiest to sort away as they fly teetering each wing tip dips then rises, it may be due to their slow flying speed. However they fly as if they are on a tightrope holding onto a balancing pole slowly working their way along the high wire carefully balancing with the pole moving slowing up and down. Those motions are easily distinguished from a distance identifying them rapidly.

The Hawk pounds it’s wings hard to gain altitude, they will pump 10-20 times hard then glide repeating until they achieve the altitude they are after perhaps to join a flock of Vultures in their high spiral. They do not have the patience of the Vulture however and will leave them after a very short while heading off without flapping the wings but gliding with the wind. Or they may take a sudden dive after spying their next meal.

The Raven on the other hand flies erratically, not staying the course they appear to have no plan what’s so ever. They mess with one another bumping, racing and dodging they give the impression of having a good old time. But they as the other big birds always have a following, and it’s not a fan club. All of the predators raid the smaller birds nests keeping the Starlings, Blackbirds and Swallows on their toes. It’s impressive how the small birds all have one common enemy, the big birds.

The Vultures, Ravens (Crows as well) and Red Tailed Hawks are the major players in this wind. The small birds are out but they stay close to the ground and abandon the slough at noon when the bigger birds are just showing themselves.

Happy Fathers Day.

Jacques Lebec Natural Self Reliance

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