Oregon Coast Hosts Programs for Bird Lovers, Watchers
(Newport, Oregon) - The Oregon coast has indeed gone to the birds. Two new turkey vultures have taken their place at a high-profile exhibit at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, while November brings two intensely interesting birding programs to the central coast.
The first happens Thursday, November 19, where Dr. Rob Suryan presents "Re-establishing a Breeding Population of Short-tailed Albatrosses in the Bonin Islands, Japan." The event is part of the Yaquina Birders and Naturalists group’s programs.
Rob is an OSU researcher at the Hatfield Marine Science Center and will describe the first ever attempt to actively reintroduce albatrosses to a former breeding island, including chick translocations, hand-rearing, and satellite tracking to assess post-release survival.
This Yaquina Birders & Naturalists meeting starts at 7 p.m. at Education Wing Room 30/32 in the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center. Use the staff entrance, not the entrance to the Visitor's Center. Follow the signs, and park near the Library. The event is free.
The "Birds of Fogarty Beach State Park, Boiler Bay, and Depoe Bay" are on tap on Saturday, November 21. Dick Demarest will lead this Yaquina Birders and Naturalists field trip. Please meet by 9 a.m. at the north end of Fogarty Beach State Park, which is about 2 miles north of Depoe Bay. The north end of this park is along HWY 101 north of Fogarty Creek. There is no fee to use this park. The event is free and expected to last through the morning.
For more information, call Range Bayer at 541-265-2965.
Friday morning saw the introduction of two 18-month-old turkey vultures to their new home at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Also that day, the names “Ichabod” and “Olive” were announced for the creatures - selected from public entries in a “Name the Turkey Vulture” contest. The turkey vultures, male and female siblings, are rescued birds from the Raptor Education group in Antigo, Wisconsin.
CJ McCarty, Aquarium Curator of Birds, carried them by glove to their new digs.
“We are doing our best to minimize stressors as they become acclimated to their new home at the Aquarium,” McCarty. “We are really impressed with how adaptable they are. They seem very comfortable in their new home.
“Turkey vultures are intelligent and gregarious birds, which will make them both challenging and rewarding to work with.”
The turkey vulture - Cathartes aura – is often mistaken for an eagle or hawk, while spotting the creature in flight is absolutely unmistakable to the trained eye. Its genus name, Cathartes, means “purifier,” and the bird earns its name by keeping its habitat cleaned up. The Oregon Coast Aquarium’s new Turkey Vulture exhibit will spotlight these fascinating birds and demonstrate their important role in our environment.
As nature’s ultimate recycler, the turkey vulture is a scavenger, using its keen eyesight and exceptional sense of smell to find food. It flies low enough to detect ethyl mercaptan, a gas produced by decaying carrion. It takes an amazing digestive system to digest this diet. The uric acid is so strong that it kills viruses and bacteria, helping to keep disease out of the environment and protecting other animals and people from getting sick.
Friday, the pair often stayed in their little house, with the female periodically venturing out to play with McCarty.
Aquarium publicist Cindy Hanson said the birds had apparently really bonded with McCarty. In the cage, she played with the vulture by holding up objects for her to pick at, which included her fingers wiggling in the sand at one point.
The most abundant of all scavenging birds of prey, the turkey vulture is also one of the largest birds in North America, with a wingspan of up to 6 feet and a body length of 25 to 32 inches. It has no syrinx (bird voicebox) and only emits hissing or grunting sounds. Gliding on updrafts, it rarely needs to flap its wings more than a few times in a row. It rises above storms by riding on drafts of warm air, or thermals.