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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Are a "buzzard" and a "vulture" the same thing?

Black Vulture (L) and Turkey Vulture (R)
In North America, a vulture is purely a scavenger (road kill and such), never killing a live animal. A similar word grew out of European mythology;  and the word “buzzard” probably originated (improperly) from “buteo” – a Latin term for a soaring hawk. The early settlers of this continent knew only the improper term “buzzard” and applied it to any large soaring bird, including our Red-tailed Hawk, Turkey Vulture and Eagle  (which certainly isn’t a “buzzard”).

In north Texas, we see the Turkey Vulture primarily.  The Black Vulture less often. Neither enjoys being  called a “buzzard”. That’s a nickname that old Hollywood movies popularized without getting the facts.
Turkey Vulture soaring


Who’s getting fooled?     Everyone knows that squirrels bury nuts to eat later. Researchers in Pennsylvania and Connecticut found that, interestingly, squirrels often dig a hole, then don’t bury a nut in it.  When a squirrel knows something is watching, and digging up nuts a moment later, he may dig these fake burial holes to get the follower to give up (maybe a Blue jay, another squirrel or even a human).  A squirrel may even re-bury a sloppily buried nut to make it harder to pilfer.



OWEN YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Plant Society of Texas, and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Federation of Landscape Architects, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. His office is at in Denton.



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