June 1st, 2010

baby vultures 2006

miniature foods and miniature vultures

So, I forgot the camera this weekend.

Bob had his phone, so I took a couple of pics with that, but of course, he's taken it to work.  But - I brought back the projects I worked on, so I can take photos of them (I haven't yet), and I will download the vulture photos soon.

Yes, we have vulture babies!  I went out to look on Sunday, and there were two tiny chicks with their mother (or father, I can't tell the sex of the vultures on sight), huddled together, still wet from the egg.  So cute.  I got a picture of them on Monday, when they were alone, with the bigger chick curled protectively around the smaller one.  We've seen them do this before - when there are two chicks, the bigger one protects the smaller one from perceived threats.  It's very sweet.

I can't find very much information on black vultures (no-one wants to get close enough to study them, it seems), but from what we've observed so far this year, it seems like one vulture stays with the eggs constantly until they hatch, at which point, the chicks' self-defense mechanism kicks in, and the smell keeps them safe from predators.  Then the vultures leave them alone for short intervals, so they can find food, both for themselves and for the chicks (both of them looking ups their odds of finding food).  I think the babies exude an oil that makes them smell and taste bad (though I'm not licking them to find out!), so they're safe in their nest, even though it's on the ground.

I've noticed in past years that they really build a nest, too - when they nested in the barn, they arranged the trash around the chicks in a circle, creating a space for the chicks.  If I moved a piece of debris to get photos, the next time I came back, the piece would be moved back into place.  Very cool.  In the coop, they're more protected - they went through to the closed side (through the little chicken door, which makes me giggle every time I think of them squeezing through) rather than lay the eggs on the more convenient side that was open - so they haven't pulled as much stuff around them, as they're behind the feeding trough that's sitting on end in the corner.  But, they've still created a definite space. 

I love the vultures.  Sure, they smell bad, but they're very cute, and really getting used to us.  I'm not too worried about them getting used to us, since they have no real predators (nothing wants to eat a vulture), and it won't do them any harm to use our outbuildings as safe places to nest.  In the fall, I'm going to put out old pumpkins for them, since they apparently love rotting pumpkins, and the pumpkin is good for them.

Enough about vultures - I'll post pics soon.  I also made more clay food for the dollhouse, which I still have to photograph.  I learned how to make fruit canes, I made mushrooms and carrots, a fish platter, bottled fruit and vegetables (with little printed labels and cloth-covered tops), side dishes, sandwich cookies, tarts, and lots of cool tiny stuff.  My favourite is the cranberry sauce - I made the kind that comes in a can that you slice - with the indentations in the jelly from the can.  I ordered some doll house china, so I can set the foods up on platters that fit them, since I used up the ones I had.  I also made cheese and cracker platters.  I need to take photos of it all and show y'all, obviously, but I am working from home today, and need to get more work done.

Pictures soon.