Perhaps three posts on one birds of prey program is a bit excessive? But, I feel that Cayce requires her own post. After all, how many Black Vultures do you know that get a standing ovation? For that matter, how many Black Vultures do you know at all?
Vultures happen to be one of my favorite birds. I always enjoy watching them soar on the wind, hardly ever flapping their wings. But I really fell in love with vultures when we had a house in the country with a large pond. One spring day, we had a inversion. I honestly can’t say I fully understand this, but apparently the water on the top of the pond becomes cooler than the water on the bottom and, as the water switches places, the oxygen escapes and the fish suffocate. When I say the fish suffocate, I mean hundreds of fish suffocate. I mean more fish than we would have ever guessed lived in that pond suffocated. I mean the entire surface of a 1 acre pond was covered in dead fish.
Enter the vultures.
Any bird that can come onto the scene of such a stinky mess and leave less than 3 days later with the place looking like nothing happened (besides a few stray skeletons) is welcome at my house any time. I can’t imagine how much we would have had to pay a person to clean up that mess.
My appreciation for nature’s sanitation engineers (as Dale of S.O.A.R. would say) meant I had an open mind the first time I met Cayce. But Cayce doesn’t really require you to have an open mind–she will win you over regardless.
First of all, Cayce likes to run around on the ground. This is in and of itself is funny. Black Vulture run by hopping and skipping across the ground. It’s funny. Trust me. Or, watch the video:
Second, Cayce flies over the audience with a particular glee. She seems to know she’s a star and that getting as close as physically possible to the audience makes her more of a star. In fact, she hit me in the head with her tail as she flared to land on Dale’s glove during the second show. The audience loved it.
Third, Cayce chases John, pecking at his legs, demonstrating he is below her in the pecking order. The entire audience cracks up as John runs from Cayce. While he is being slightly theatrical, Cayce can draw blood, so moving quickly to avoid her beak is not just for show.
An interesting tidbit I learned about vultures from John and Dale is that Black Vultures have a strong beak for piercing and tearing through thick flesh while Turkey Vultures have a great sense of smell. Together, both species eat well.
But today, no one is really thinking too much about what Cayce eats, even though Dale is throwing her chunks of dead mice. My only complaint about Cayce is that she’s hard to photograph.