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Cathartes Aura ... they are beautiful and magnificent, though most folks regard them as an 'ugly' bird due to their featherless heads. They prevent disease by disposing (rapidly) of carrion. They are very social birds performing a necessary service that benefits mankind. Their heads are bare so that they can easily clean themselves after feeding. When they are swirling together, mostly during the morning, they are riding thermals until they break away from their roosting area to go 'hunting.' This is called a kettle while they are on the thermals. When roosting together in the evening before dark and they are still visible, they are called a 'wake' because hunched over and silhouetted they look a little like they are in mourning. The wingspan of an adult can range up to 7.1 feet, yet they weigh 3-4 pounds. Turkey vultures migrate every year from western North America to eastern Mexico/Central America. Kern River Preserve in eastern Kern County is a stop-off during the migration. This TV is preparing to lift-off early in the morning. It spent the night in the forest canopy of Kern River Preserve in the background and will perch in the sun to take the chill off its wings. Soon it will lift from the branch and resume its journey. See: http://jpgmag.com/photos/2693916 for Regenia Brabham's photo.
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