This is the season when legend says the swallows return to Capistrano, and the vultures to Iowa. The birds migrate south in winter, and ISU extension wildlife specialist Jim Pease says turkey vultures, the first cousin to the bald eagle, are returning. If people want to get a good look, — for “TV” or Turkey Vulture watching, Pease advises looking for the gigantic wings set up off the horizontal in a “V” shape. They’ll follow air currents called thermals that come up from river valleys, and float back and forth on the air hardly having to use any energy at all. Even more than humans or tasty rabbits, what the vultures often are watching is…each other. When you see a bunch together over a field, one may have spotted something to eat and the others follow, because they use one another as a clue to find food. Pease explains that unlike their cousin the bald eagle, vultures are not predators but scavengers, seldom killing their own food. They may take the occasional live prey, he says, but seldom: they’re looking for dead carcasses. Another Midwestern location that decided to play on the fame of the swallows at Capistrano is Hinckley, Ohio, where every year about this time they celebrate the return of their buzzards…actually, also turkey vultures.
You are here: / / Turkey Vultures return to Iowa