Saturday was a busy day along our little one and a half lane, country road. More people work at the hatchery than live on this road. When the local salmon festival occurs, thousands visit in the span of 6 hours.
Although the people arrive in force to view the salmon, their numbers don’t come close to the population of turkey vultures filling the sky. Like the people, the vultures also come for the salmon. The turkey vultures are drawn in with their keen sense of smell. This may also be why the visiting local tourists don’t linger for too long. If you think a spawning salmon looks gnarly, you should smell them.
The malodorous rot of spawning salmon surely does not evoke a sense of bliss.
The signs of autumn are slowly appearing in the Battle Creek basin. Last week bid farewell the triple digit heat with a final day of 103F (39.4C) on Monday, October 1. This week opened with a high of 80F(26.6C). The temperature drop and shorter days nudge a color shift in the trees.
Kettles of turkey vultures fill the sky. Here along the creek we have vultures year round. They even nest in our backyard. This time of year their numbers increase in the sky as they circle higher and higher on thermals. Vultures gather here for a reason. The fall run of Chinook salmon is underway.
Reviled creatures, most people consider these carrion feeders gross and ugly. If you have ever smelled rotting salmon from the spawn, you may consider these turkey vultures the most beautiful of all. We welcome their presence to keep our little valley clean.
I appreciate these birds.
Turkey Vultures – This is an illustration from a children’s book I am working on called “No Place for Ugly Birds.”