Friday, January 23, 2009

Thursday Updates and Related Stories: Vultures, the CP Turkey, and the Tompkins Square Squirrel Box

Uncle Buzzy, the Turkey Vulture that reminded me how sweet eyed vultures can be. Which reminded long time contributor Betty Jo of California in her response to the post Eagle Days, about some young vultures...

This sweet eyed young vulture was photographed by Donna of Tulsa.

Hi Donna,
That is such good news about the eagles becoming a money making attraction through observation rather than killing.

I was interested in your comments about the Turkey Vulture. Growing up I was around a lot of Vultures on ranches and roadsides. I found them fascinating and felt sad for them because they were killed in cruel ways by people who did not have a clue about reality.

But I have a positive story about vultures. My family had a vulture nest box!
In the 70's a farm came up for sale with an abandoned house which my father persuaded my sister to buy. He wanted it because my mother's family had lived in that house when he was "courting" her; several of her siblings had been born in the house.

My Dad built a water "tank" in Texan lingo and ran cows there. One day he was leading a young nephew on a tour of the farm and house; as they went up the stairs, they heard a frightening hissing sound--no, the house was not haunted as they first feared--they found 2 scared white puff ball vulture chicks! The vultures flew in the upstairs window and raised their young in a dry warm nest box.
How wonderful is that? My Dad, being a wildlife lover, loved the idea, so they were safe.

Your dad was definitely my kind of guy! I wish I had a vulture nest upstairs. Of course I don't have an upstairs, but if they'd promise to come I'd build a box on the roof for them. My, my, wonder what the neighbors would think about that?

Photograph courtesy of the NYC Parks Department

The Central Park Turkey, back when she was in Central Park

Katherine Herzog, long time Central Park bird, hawkwatcher, and let us add a real fan of the Central Park Turkey, with her thoughts on the Turkey relocation issue.

(The DEC decided that the Central Park Turkey should be released into Pelham Park instead of her previous home in Central Park.)

Dear Donna,

The Central Park Wild Turkey captured by "a member of the public" was all Girl!

Several park regulars who were actually raised on poultry farms pointed out some of the obvious differences - the female does not have the noticeable wattle, no "beard" on the breast and no fighting spurs on the legs, and does not fan the her male counterparts.

She was a real character and interacted with squirrels, birds, and unfortunately too much with humans.

That was her ultimate downfall.

I believe it was the DEC who "rescued" the coyote from Central Park a few years back and that ultimately lead to this poor creature's untimely death.

CP Turkey knew the park very well and where to find food, how to evade unleashed dogs and where to find water.

That she's now, after being thoroughly traumatized, being put into a foreign setting in this most difficult of seasons, winter, is truly outrageous. She should be immediately returned "home" to Central Park!


Valkyrie in Tompkins Square Park attempts to use her x ray vision to help catch the squirrel snug in her house.
Photograph by Francois Portmann,

A note from Carol Vinzant, wildlife rehabilitator specializing in squirrels, and a journalist besides-

I put up that painted house in Tompkins. I'm glad the awning is working nicely to protect my squirrel tenant.


Is the squirrel Valkyrie is after one of your past orphans? I thought perhaps not as all the ones I'd seen had been gray. Not that I want this one to be eaten you understand. Though as far as I can see, the squirrels seem to be outsmarting Valkyrie so far.

Nicely built house, and the awning is indeed working. Love the paint job too. Goes well with the neighborhood.

AND didn't I say Carol was also a writer? Check out her newest offering on concerning the shelters going all out for the Obama family dog search--


Karen Anne said...

Does anyone know if the CP turkey has actually been released? Or if she's still with the rehabber? And if she's been released, how she's doing?

Latesnake (your host) said...

RE: Turkey Vultures... When they come back to Hinkley, Ohio every year there is the biggest damn festival you EVER saw... just like the swallows coming back to Capristrano . You never saw such a festival... check it out!

Donegal Browne said...


According to Central Park unofficial wildlife monitor Katherine Herzog,the CP Turkey is still with the rehabber as far as anyone knows. And no one is really sure why, as CP is healthy.

cvinzant said...

That's not one of my squirrels in the house. I only know because all of mine in the park are gray. I got one black one this fall, but gave it to another rehabber (who could better handle his broken leg).

The hawks in Tompkins are surprisingly competent this year. We usually get what someone called the losers of the hawk world. I've seen this girl eating three squirrels so far this winter--the latest today.

The box is an old, insulated milk delivery box I got on eBay.

I once interviewed the parks commissioner. He said that they had taken a turkey, Zelda, our of Battery Park many times, relocating her to what they considered more a suitable home. But then she kept coming back so they gave up. Why is it they don't let the CP turkey stay, too?