'Overlooked' turkey vultures the center of UCCE research

Aug 26, 2013

To some, turkey vultures are repugnant scavengers that feed on road kill. But to Greg Giusti, they are an intriguing, unexplored scientific topic, said an article in the Ukiah Daily Journal.

"They aren't warm and cuddly so people aren't drawn to them," Giusti said. "My academic curiosity drew me in."

Giusti has discovered that the birds nest in cavities of old, long-dead oak trees.

"We have seen the vultures jump inside the hollow, the middle of the tree, some 8 to 10 feet down," Giusti said. "Since there is not sufficient diameter for them to fly up from the inside, we surmise that they shimmy up to the top. When the hatchlings are about a month old and able to fly, almost full size, they, too, must shimmy up to get out."  

The UC Hopland Research and Extension Center hosts a public seminar, "Turkey Vultures in the Oaks: A Lovely Yet Maligned Bird," at 7 p.m. tonight in the Rod Shippey Hall, 4700 University Road, Hopland.

By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist