Thursday, July 5, 2012

Verdant Vulture - The Turkey Vulture

I offer you a green Turkey Vulture. The photo is real and untouched. I took it. I do apologize that it has the same blurred quality to it that most of the photos of Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster have. A canal full of alligators separated me and the emerald-feathered bird and a zoom lens can only do so much.

There are no shortages of natural curiosities on the shores of Lake Trafford in Immokalee, FL. The 1600-acre lake has more alligator per acre than anywhere on the planet. Colorful Roseate Spoonbills, Purple Gallinules, Tri-Colored Herons and Little Blue Herons stalk the shoreline. The nearby marina is home to several exotic birds like Macaws, Cockatoos and an African Grey Parrot. So when I saw what I thought was a Peacock sipping water in front of a backdrop of Pond Apples (Annona glabra) and Alligator Flag (Thaliageniculata) it didn’t seem entirely out of place. As I approached, it quickly became clear that I had been fooled by a Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) in disguise.
© Pete Corradino
Turkey Vultures are so named because of the red, featherless skin on their head that is similar to the male Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo). Turkey Vulture feathers are black to brown with white markings underneath from the wing tips to the body. The legs are pink to white. This vulture was green. Closer inspection shows that feathers closest to the tail are almost entirely green while those closer to the shoulders are brown with green tips. The eye appears white but is sunken and desiccated suggesting an old or sick bird.

I wish I had an explanation. As the photo has been passed around, the theories include: splattered with paint on St. Patty’s Day (this blog was originally posted in March), inadvertently doused with liquid copper (an orange tree fungicide), a nutritional deficiency, stricken with a parasite or an escaped character from World of Warcraft. What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting find!Does look a bit sickly as you mentioned. I will share and see if anyone I know may be able to assist.