Thursday, June 19, 2014

Birding on the River

I began my career as a volunteer about 10 years ago at the Falls of the Ohio, spending the cool mornings on the observation deck, showing visitors the fossils to look for, and really enjoying the birding. So I headed back for the Falls when a notice came that a Black-bellied Plover in breeding plumage had been seen there.  I didn't find the plover, but did enjoy quietly watching the birds.
The water is much more shallow at the Falls than anywhere else on the Ohio River. Fish migrating upstream must come this way, since they can't swim through the locks and canal on the other side. Masses of Great Blue Herons and Black-crowned Night Herons stand in the rushing water, patiently waiting for a fish to come by. If you watch long enough, you will see large fish leaping out of the water, just like the nature documentaries about Alaska.
But my favorite bird is the Turkey Vulture. They roost nearby, and as the sun warms the exposed rocks, he warm air currents give them a boost into the sky. So every morning at the same time, you see all of them circling to gain altitude. Of course, sometimes they don't need to look far for a carcass. When fish run into the dam, their bodies float downstream landing on the banks of the fossil beds, and the vultures begin to feast!
Sometimes a small bird chases the larger vulture away. Don't they know that TV's only eat dead stuff?
Yes, vultures are my favorite birds.

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