We think we know what Turkey Vultures are all about; Roadside scavengers, soaring omens of doom or the undertakers of pasture casualties. We see Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) as the grim but necessary corpse clean-up crew of the bird world.
That’s not the whole truth, however, as wildlife biologist and bird-of-prey expert Jim Wiegand recently witnessed. In a private correspondence Mr. Wiegand states: “I made a discovery recently . . . I found out that Turkey Vultures are much more resourceful than people realize. They do not just eat meat and carrion. I set up a test and watched them eat bread, vegetables, and even some fruit. Enclosed are some of the photos showing this. Of the items, the bread was the most favored.”
Vultures eating bread? Fruit? This turns our perception of vultures on its ear.
“I will add some additional info that will should amuse readers of this article,” Wiegand continued, “In my field test these vultures also ate an entire apple pie and a large serving of biscuits and gravy. The Vulture in the image is actually holding part of a sandwich roll.”
Mr. Wiegand’s photos are included here. It will be interesting to consider what other ‘facts’ about this familiar bird still remain to be discovered. More, it is a pointed reminder that we really have a very superficial knowledge of the natural world we live in.
*Jim Wiegand is an internationally known wildlife biologist specializing in soaring birds, and helping to expose endangered species threats, specifically regarding lethal turbine designs in the wind farm industry.