From atop a thermal, Turkey Vultures in groups of up to 200 sail across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, making landfall near Salt Creek County Park on the Olympic Peninsula. The Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society sponsors a free field trip to witness this autumnal passage. Check out that or other local field trips from OPAS!
Vultures Sail the Strait
Written by Todd Peterson
This is BirdNote!
[Sound of wind]
To make their great journeys, birds take advantage of the forms and energy of the natural world. And they do so predictably, making use of conditions that cycle through the year. [Sound of wind and waves]
In late September, Turkey Vultures funnel south to the tip of Vancouver Island. There, the imposing birds take advantage of thermals—rising columns of warm air—to spiral a thousand feet into the sky. From this height, the vultures, in groups of up to 200, sail across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, making landfall near Salt Creek County Park on the Olympic Peninsula.
In spring, many Turkey Vultures and hawks, including Cooper’s, Sharp-shinned, and Red-tailed (cry of a Red-tailed Hawk), take a slightly more westerly route, migrating along the coast. Westerly wind currents, sweeping up the flanks of Bahokus Peak, carry the vultures to the heights from which they glide north, across the strait.
September 25th through 30th is usually the peak of the Turkey Vulture migration from Vancouver Island. On September 30th, the Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society sponsors a field trip to witness this autumnal passage. Why not go and see for yourself? For more information call the Dungeness River Audubon Center. You can find the phone number and learn more about the festival by coming to our web site, BirdNote.org.
For Seattle Audubon and your local Audubon, I’m Frank Corrado.
Red-tailed Hawk call provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by L.J. Peyton.
Ambient recordings by Kessler Productions
Producer: John Kessler
© Seattle Audubon 9/28/06