Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Turkey Vultures
Birders keep a lot of checklists.  We put little check marks next to bird names in a huge variety, such as life lists, yard lists and bucket lists. Well, perhaps we don't all have bucket lists, but there are birds we are dying to see. One of those wouldn't normally be the Turkey Vulture. But, after a day trip to Lake Bayano I feel like starting a bucket list and putting a big check next to TV migration.

One of four species of vultures in Panama, large numbers of TVs move through Panama in October and November and again in February to April. The birds are concentrated in an area of the country that can be as narrow as 36 miles. On the 27th of October 2011, the hawk watch on Ancon Hill in Panama City logged a new one-day record of 893,783 raptors!

We have seen Turkey Vultures in California, of course, and they are a feature of the Kern River Valley AUTUMN NATURE & VULTURE FESTIVAL. One of many facts I've learned is that a group of Turkey Vultures roosting is called a Wake.

The birds over Lake Bayano weren't waiting around to have a name put on them. They were making time! The video shows them climbing up the thermals and heading towards South America.  A very few Swainson's Hawks were sprinkled in the flocks.

The best intro to the video would be by Robert Ridgely in A Guide to Birds of Panama. "A masterful flyer, soaring for long periods without a flap, tilting from side to side to take advantage of every favorable air current....large (sometimes tremendous) flocks of migrants breeding in north pass overhead, providing the observer who is in the right place at the right time with a breathtaking spectacle..."

1 comment: