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e_moon60

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High Tech Vulture Roosts [Oct. 5th, 2014|04:15 pm]
e_moon60
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turkey-vultures-tower10-04-14-024

Although not all the cellphone towers around here have a steady population of vultures--and I can't quite figure out why--some are often crowded with them in early morning and late afternoon/evening.   Sometimes only one species inhabits a given tower (this tower "favors" turkey vultures; another about 5-6 miles south-east has a large population of black vultures.)    Occasionally a hawk will rest on a tower during the day.   Cellphone towers give vultures a "lift" on  by giving them clear height to take off from, plenty of room to build up airspeed.



You can tell turkey vultures from black vultures even when perched by their naked red heads.  Black vultures have blackish-gray skin on the head.

close-up-turkey-vultures024

This tower is not as heavily populated as the one SE of us, which in the morning before they fly often has 100 or more black vultures perched on all the cross braces, from about 12 feet above ground to the top.  If I happen to drive by that tower at the right moment (as I did this morning) that means a huge crowd of black vultures flapping vigorously to get off the tower and into the air. 

Cellphone towers offer a new habitat type for vultures in this area, which is poor in tall trees.  Vultures do roost in trees (used to, more than they do now) but the towers are much higher and are well above obstructions like lower powerlines (some very tall powerlines are almost as tall, but not--around here--near cellphone towers.)   Any new non-natural constructions offer opportunity for wildlife to make use of it in ways not foreseen or intended by the humans who built it, and cellphone towers are no exception.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: robby
2014-10-05 09:32 pm (UTC)
I've seen multiple vultures on cell towers as well. I once happened upon a slew of turkey vultures devouring a road-kill deer, and it was amazing how quickly and thoroughly they stripped it. On YouTube there is a graphic video of an arcane Tibetan funeral rite involving vultures. The idea is for the body to be completely consumed that day, merging immediately with the universe.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2014-10-05 11:15 pm (UTC)
I keep wondering what damage 50+ vultures can do to a cellphone tower (if any--but their output is pretty corrosive, like that of many meat-eating birds.) They're such a useful cleanup crew, when they're working, but such nuisance when they're not.
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[User Picture]From: aunty_marion
2014-10-05 09:43 pm (UTC)
In Central London, peregrine falcons have taken to nesting on tall buildings, these being apparently the acceptable modern alternative to cliffs.
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From: sheff_dogs
2014-10-05 09:55 pm (UTC)
Not just central London, most cities in the UK. In smaller cities they go out to the suburbs to hunt, I used to see one regulary over the allotments at the back of where I lived in Sheffield and a couple of times it consumed it's pigeons in my garden. Some of the allotmenteers used them for their pigeon lofts so there were always pigeons around.
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[User Picture]From: lillian13
2014-10-05 09:48 pm (UTC)
The ones on south Mopac here in Austin are absolutely covered in them. Though the ones in east Austin have been ceded to the feral parrots. We get the vultures roosting on our parking garage when they haven't been chased off by mockingbirds.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2014-10-05 11:12 pm (UTC)
Except for the big roads like Mopac and I-35, I'd think there wouldn't be enough roadkill or other dead meat to attract vultures to most part of the city....but clearly I'm wrong, because they wouldn't be there otherwise. I understand why cities have coyotes and foxes and hawks and owls--active predators--but thought they'd eat up their prey, not leave anything for the vultures. Hmmm.
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[User Picture]From: kengr
2014-10-05 10:52 pm (UTC)
Better those than power poles. We used to have the power at the apartments goout fairly often. Ome daym I saw a bright flash out the window and heard a loud crackle just as the power went out.

I Called the power company abnd went outside the bird (I'm not sure what it was, about crow sized, but gray & brown) was about 5-10 gferet from the pole in the street, near the curb.

I made a point of waiting and when the power crew showed up, I pointed out the crispy critter. They did something different and the birds can no longer land in a spot that lets current arc thru them.

And the power has been a lot more stable ever since. My guess is that until then, they though it'd be the ubiquitous squirrels in the neighbor hood. With birds, you need different precautions. The wingspan and all that.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2014-10-05 11:10 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes. Our transformer (the nearest one) has been taken out by squirrels and opossums so far (we've found the crispy critters) but I can see where a bird could short one out. Glad the crew was able to block the birds' landing on it.
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[User Picture]From: kengr
2014-10-05 11:22 pm (UTC)
Yeah, but only after years of it getting nailed every few months... *sigh*

ps. finally got some spare cash, and filled out my collection of your ebooks from Baen. Be nice to re=read the Serrano stuff without having to switch between paper and the e-reader.

And I can do it with the first five Paks books too.
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[User Picture]From: jhetley
2014-10-05 10:55 pm (UTC)
Around here, cell towers are often preempted by osprey nests.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2014-10-05 11:08 pm (UTC)
We don't have water, and therefore no fish, and therefore no ospreys.

But lucky for you to get to see that many ospreys!

E.
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[User Picture]From: boggyb
2014-10-05 11:42 pm (UTC)
Any new non-natural constructions offer opportunity for wildlife to make use of it in ways not foreseen or intended by the humans who built it

There was a photo I saw many years ago (I think in the BBC wildlife magazine) of a crow nesting underneath a London bridge. Instead of using twigs, this particular crow had built its nest out of coathangers!
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2014-10-06 04:36 pm (UTC)
Crows are really smart.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2014-10-06 12:19 pm (UTC)
Oh, GOOD one! This is not a morning I thought I would laugh (the plumber's due at 8 am, it's already after 7, and my bad housekeeping has caught up with me) but I did. And still. So we have Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, etc. vultures in bird disguises? I can believe it.
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[User Picture]From: thewayne
2014-10-06 05:26 pm (UTC)
The main drag through Alamogordo is White Sands Blvd. There was a gas station/mini-mart across the street from the park, and there was always an amazing collection of birds there. They were just generic city birds, probably mostly pigeons, but there was always a huge horde of them. The store closed a few months ago, and the birds are gone.

We believe that Radagast was working there undercover.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2014-10-07 05:11 am (UTC)

All the convenience stores here collect house sparrows, who nest in the lights above the gas pumps (and in the eaves of the buildings if they can.) Down in the city, there are lots and lots of grackles, quite bold about begging...er...stealing food from people eating outside. They also eat the bugs off the front grills of cars in parking lots.
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[User Picture]From: thewayne
2014-10-07 05:53 am (UTC)
I would love to see a bird eat the bugs off the front of my car. I recently drove to/from Colorado, some 1300 miles, and haven't gotten my car washed since.
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[User Picture]From: pigshitpoet
2014-10-07 04:22 am (UTC)

; '

i'm surprised that any living creature prefers to locate near any emf device. cell towers are the disorienting to earth magnetics, interfering with navigation ability in bees and migrating birds. maybe vultures are already dead or just insensitive to the radiation..

weird
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2014-10-07 04:46 am (UTC)

Re: ; '

The local bees seem to be navigating just fine, honeybees and natives alike. And these vultures are definitely alive.

I would have preferred fewer towers, but nobody asked my permission and the closest tower is on someone else's land. The vultures and the occasional hawks like them (the vultures, massing together as they do, bully the hawks off the towers. If I had time, I'd try to find a way to ID individuals and see if the same individuals came to the same tower most of the time.The tower habitat isn't saturated yet. Also I don't know if it matters to the vultures exactly what equipment a tower has.
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[User Picture]From: pigshitpoet
2014-10-07 05:15 am (UTC)

Re: ; '

in canada, towers are not allowed within 500 meters of a public space, i.e. schools, parks shopping malls. it's a smoking gun, like second hand smoke. the full effects are as yet unknown. the who does label emf as a possible carcinogenic agent.

wi-fi causes insomnia in lj bloggers, like me. i have no wi-fi and had to fight the neighbour to turn down and mover theirs. it buzzes us in waking life, but in sleep it robs us of our deep r.e.m., read by our brains as false light, prevents melatonin production that fights free radicals in our bodies.

i have been affected by it.
http://pigshitpoet.wordpress.com/2014/07/06/the-wall/

http://pigshitpoet.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/bed-post/

http://pigshitpoet.wordpress.com/2012/06/17/cellphone-on-canvas-psp/

there is a gertrude and heathcliff joke about two vultures, sitting on a telephone post; one says to the other, "patience my ass, i want to kill something..."

; P
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