Natural History Notes

Friday, August 17, 2012

backyard birdies

I am, perforce, spending the summer at Sycamore Street in town, where there is an access ramp, Meal on Wheels, easy visiting by friends and helpers. I have some VERY UNUSUAL backyard birds here. The acre of post oaks has always housed lots of birds including screech owls and mourning doves as well as the mockers, jays, chickadees, and so forth. But as far as I know, this is the first year that black vultures have raised young here.vulture looking at toes

I first saw them back in April or May, making an extremely clumsy landing on the deck railing by the rain barrel at the back of the house. Startled me! At close range they're HUGE. Also the young ones can fly much better than they can land -- that takes more practice. 

As the summer has gone on, they continue to come for water and to perch on nearby dead branches (too many of them after last summer) or often on the railing. What with my caregiver coming, daily Meals on Wheels volunteers, and a number of visitors, they have gotten quite blasé and tame about people. Alerted by their rhythmic, raspy vocalizations, I got to the window with my camera the other day. Half a dozen photos are up on Flickr. The photos suffer from being taken through an excessively dirty window -- "levels" and "saturation" can only do so much. 

I have had a breeding pair of black vultures for years out at Red-bird Ridge seven miles outside of town, but these semi-tame guys are quite something. Most of my visitors have seen them now, which tends to give then quite a thrill

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interior natural history

or, the workings of my right ankle joint

This is what it looks like as of June 15

And this wonderful device, nicknamed Camel, is how I have been getting about.

As of last week, I am cleared to start trying the walker ('Tortoise'), carefully, wearing the black boot and not petting much weight on foot. Yesterday I went LR to back guest room to LR, around dining tabla, back to couch. 160   ft. 11minutes. Like I said, Tortoise.