Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ralph the Turkey Vulture in Ohio

All these shots are from the Nature Center at Hueston Woods State Park. This little bird ate some of the cougar's food. He was flying inside the bobcat's cage and the naturalist said he has seen the bobcat take out a bird that flew around too much!
Here's Cougie taking a bow:
Here's a close up of the hot dog leftovers. You're welcome:
We learned a lot about Turkey Vultures. They're really quite smart and also a good example of how we're built for our purposes. His head, for example, has no feathers. But that makes it easier for him to keep clean since he eats dead things. His nose also has a huge, open nostril so he can better smell his lunch:
They vomit when they feel trapped, so they're often named Ralph or Chuck. I had my camera zoomed in as much as it would allow, so these photos are grainy. The shot below doesn't show his feathers off as nicely as I hoped, but he is really a pretty bird.
His name is Ralph and here is his story. Ralph is 41 years old. He was hatched at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio as part of a psychology experiment. Who needs to understand the psychology of a turkey vulture is my question. But after the experiment ended and because he was imprinted, he didn't know how to hunt for himself, so he was given to the Nature Center back in the 70s.

Early one summer he spent an entire day standing in a dish of water. They all thought he was just hot and didn't think much of it. But the next day, he was gone. The leathers on his legs had softened to the point where he could get out of them. He flew over to the campground and spent the summer there eluding the naturalists and stealing hot dogs and other food from the campers. He spent that summer out and about, but when it began to get cold again, he came back home and he's been there ever since.

3 comments:

Rose said...

What a story...The Vulture Who Came Home from the Wild....

A piece of news said...

I love that story.

Rambling Woods said...

I love that story too...